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VOL. I. 

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BY ; 




VOL. I. 






"VTAPOLEON has said, " The history of France must be written in two 
-i- 1 volumes or in a hundred." The latter task is beyond the powers 
of one man. "Whilst still young I dared to undertake the former ; and 
when, a few years after the Revolution of 1830, I first printed this work, 
we had not in our language any precis of our history continued down to a 
contemporary period. In writing these volumes, I purposed presenting 
to my reader, in a compact form, a comprehensive set of events, describing 
the principal causes and the great men who gave birth to, or who 
directed them ; and to elicit from the confused mass of details the 
particular character of each epoch. In a word, to exhibit what, through 
past centuries, France owes to the force of circumstances, to chance, to 
the progress of time and civilization. This very arduous task was in my 
first work but very incompletely carried out. 

In the succeeding editions of my history, I very much extended the 
"^-Onarrative, and more than once I modified either my exposition of facts, or 
my deductions from them. There is a wide interval between the tran- 
sient glances of youth and the clearer observation of mature age ; the 
historian, as his view becomes wider and his knowledge deeper, 
feels the necessity for making his reader acquainted with his progress, 
that he may share in the narrator's more advanced views as to men and 
^ things. Besides, what thoughtful man, living in the agitated times in 
which we have lived, could be vain enough never to correct his first 
.. judgment by the lessons of events and experience ? Nevertheless, my 
opinions as to essential points have not varied; and it will not, perhaps, 
be useless to make here, in a few words, my profession of principles from 
; the twofold point of view of morals and policy in history. 

At the present day, as in the past, I believe that the immutable laws of 

. morals are the same for nations as for individuals; and that it is by the 

"*>. light of conscience illumined by Divine agency that we must judge of the 

history of entire humanity. At the present time, as formerly, I believe that 

the upward growths of ideas and of manners, aided by the advances made 

vol. l b 


in commerce and industry, and recently by so many admirable discoveries, 
are tending to make the peoples understand better every day that they 
are not the natural enemies of each other; that the waves and seas are 
not placed between nations as eternal barriers to separate them, but as 
the mighty means of bringing together and uniting them. I believe, 
contrarily from what was believed in pagan antiquity, that the in- 
dividual is not made for the State, but the State for individuals ; and that 
the more freely men are allowed to exercise all their rights, under 
the guidance of religion, of morals, and of law, the more shall we see 
the State increase in prosperity and in power. I believe, finally, that the 
best governments are those which elevate the moral and intellectual level 
of the people, increase the general well-being, and cause the greatest 
possible number of persons to participate in the benefits of civilization. 
' Such are the truths which the historian, according to my lights, is bound 
to receive and never to lose sight of. 

In the primitive scheme of this work, as in all the subsequent editions 
of it, I concluded my narrative with the Eevolution of 1830. I showed 
how monarchical and parliamentary government had been introduced 
among us, and I briefly recounted the first period of its existence. It 
remained for me to narrate the latter period, and to say how France, 
after having possessed parliamentary and monarchical liberty during thirty- 
four years, lost it. 

During the first years which followed the Eevolution of February, and 
whilst a return to the fundamental principles . of a representative and 
parliamentary monarchy appeared chimerical, the duty of the historian 
was to let the heat of political passions subside, and silently to mature 
his judgment on recent events. He might thus be able to refrain from 
recalling painful recollections, especially for those men whose errors, 
no less than whose services, whose honourable character, whose rare 
talents, France has never been able to forget. But at this day, when the 
nation seems about to awake, and when so many eloquent and generous 
voices recall to mind the ideas and the traditions of free govern- 
ment, it is no longer seemly in the historian to remain quiescent. He must 
remember that history is the guide of peoples, and that to aid them, and 
to preserve them from shipwreck, it must signal to contemporaries the 
rocks on which others have struck and broken. 

Finally, the more general and ardent the desire to regain lost liberties, 
the more necessary, at the same time, is the study of the reign which 


alone can tell us how those liberties perished. The truth as to this reign 
has never been wholly told. It has been distorted by its enemies, and 
often obscured by its friends, whilst by many mere spectators of events as 
they happened, and by many who have written on this period, after taking 
therein a more or less active part, the verities have been presented in a 
very attenuated form. It could not be otherwise. Rarely, indeed, do we 
resign ourselves to accept equally the honour of success, or the responsi- 
bility of disgrace, and it seems a dangerous thing to reveal the wounds 
of a regime which we aspire to see renewed. Many feel constrained to 
draw a veil over or keep back the truth, out of a very commendable re- 
gard for great misfortunes. More are afraid of causing displeasure — 
either to actors in the events of yesterday, or to those who may be 
participators in the events of to-day or to-morrow. Each one makes 
terms with his recollections. We seek to set up an illusion, and the 
opinion takes root that the greatest political and social deluge of this 
century was an effect without any necessary or logical cause, — the 
simple result of an unfortunate concourse of exceptional and fortuitous 
circumstances. Thus no one has any very serious reproaches to make 
against himself. Destiny has so designed, Fatality has done it all. 

Is it well that we should write history thus, with posterity before our 
eyes ? Do we know what we are doing by these compromises, these 
cowardly evasions ? We forget the truth spoken by Montesquieu, that 
"behind great events there are always great moral causes;" and we fail to 
see that if no one be responsible for the misfortunes we deplore, we must 
demand an account from these very institutions which we regret, from 
these very lost liberties which we desire to see recalled. Thus become 
justifiable in the eyes of many men political indifference, distrust, disdain 
even, for parliamentary government, and for those liberties to which they 
attribute all our misfortunes. Such must be the inevitable results of 
the defaults of history, of interested or generous reticence, of com- 
plaisant and fatal frauds. No ! if the most essential of our political 
liberties have perished, the fault lies not in these liberties, nor with the 
charters in which they are written ; the loss is due partly to individuals, 
partly to causes which will be examined in their place. I shall here indi- 
cate but one cause, particularly disastrous under a representative form of 
government, and I shall call public attention, with many other writers, to the 
abuses of our administrative system, and to the dangers of excessive cen- 
tralization — the unhappy legacy of the old regime and of the first Empire. 



I wish not to be misunderstood. In pronouncing at this period, 
with almost the whole of my countrymen, against centralization without 
limits, I nevertheless acknowledge all the advantages it has lent, during 
many centuries, to the unity of public power ; and I do not forget the 
most characteristic fact of our history which exhibits France, from the 
days of Charlemagne down to an epoch approaching our own, ever increas- 
ing in power and extent, according as the power of the Sovereign or of 
the State grew and absorbed within itself all other powers. No one at 
the present day can deny that which the royal authority, aggrandized and 
firmly established, has done in consolidating territory, in putting an end 
to intestine wars, in delivering the people from feudal oppression. I will 
go further. In a great country like France, formed out of many states 
for a long period almost strangers to each other, and surrounded by 
powerful neighbours, a force capable of maintaining the integrity of the 
soil, of preserving order and peace within, of acting abroad, and extend- 
ing afar our relations and our influence, is an incontestible necessity, and 
one which all judicious men are constrained to admit. 

But when overleaping every barrier, this same central power, in place 
of widening the sources of a people's life, hinders and limits them, as was 
the case in France during the second half of the reign of Louis XIY. ; 
when it contracts or destroys the liberties necessary to the equilibrium 
of the social forces ; when, instead of stimulating the activity, the 
vigilance, and the energy of every member of the State, it benumbs and 
paralyzes them; when it tends, by substituting itself for the combined actions 
of all, to deprive every individual member of the State of the desire 
to act, this central power becomes, instead of a means of progress, an 
obstacle and a danger. 

During the last century we may discover many points of resemblance 
between the practices of the French administration and the governments 
of China and of the Lower Empire ; and if there was in the legitimate 
aspirations of France in 1789 an idea which dominated every other, an 
idea common to all the three orders of the State, an idea clearly 
and warmly expressed by all, it was the desire to throw off the yoke of 
centralized administration. Open the famous records of the period, and 
at every page we shall see, under one form or another, the same com- 
plaints, the same hopes. 

The dangers to which excessive centralization gives rise both for 
governments and the governed have been exposed in our own time by 


the most eminent men, and the Emperor himself has admitted the evil 
by displaying the desire to apply a remedy. Of the consequences of such 
a system I shall confine myself to the recalling the most pernicious, from 
the double point of view of morals and of policy. On the one hand, 
we see face to face with the omnipotence of the State the complete 
separation from power of every non-official man, and his absolute impo- 
tence, whence most frequently result the forgetfulness of the public weal, 
the entire absorption of the individual in material and private interests, 
general apathy and abasement of character. On the other hand, we see 
the inherent instability of institutions, of laws, of interests, and of 
affairs when the governmental or administrative machine works in such 
a way that it needs but the touch of a bold and firm hand upon the 
principal wheel, upon the chief motor, tc render all resistance impossible, 
to establish by coercion a victory over order. 

To account for a condition of things rife in revolutions of all kinds, more 
often under a representative regime than any other, and denounced to the 
preceding generation in austere and indignant language by the illustrious 
Roy er- Collar d when passing in review some of the most famous events 
of the revolutionary, consular, and imperial epochs, he named but a 
sole cause — administrative centralization — growing and gathering 
strength under the most diverse forms of government, and planting 
its foot upon the ruins of every institution where French liberties had 
found a fleeting refuge. " Monstrous power," said he, " power destruc- 
tive, among other liberties, of electoral liberty, without which Ministerial 
responsibility is but a dead letter, and representative government but a 
fiction and a phantom." Such was the gnawing evil which Royer- 
Collard pointed out in the state of France under the Restoration, an evil 
which has existed under every subsequent reign : it has proved a 
mortal wound to the one regime as to the other. 

To struggle against an evil so deeply rooted, to cripple the action of 
this absorbing and limitless power, two methods present themselves : we 
may restrain it by abridging the number of its prerogatives, or by set- 
ting up beside it other powers and other forces. These two means may 
be essayed simultaneously ; to speak truly, they are but one and the 
same, for to abridge excessive powers is to create salutary checks. 

In favour of this view there is the feeling, growing stronger every day, 
which tells each of us that' our revolution has destroyed too much, has 
broken too many of our traditions, has toO far forgotten that nations, no 


less than families and individuals, cannot violate natural laws, and con- 
sequently cannot, without peril, separate themselves entirely from their 
past. Further, if it were shown that there was something in the con- 
stitution of ancient France the loss of which was to-day much regretted, 
would it be but acting courageously and sensibly if we sought to recover 
it — at least, if there were anything to be regained, if all had not been so 
completely destroyed that not a trace could be discovered ? 

It is a fact of the highest importance, according to my view, that there 
exists in France an opinion favourable to this research — to this examina- 
tion. We feel, and we acknowledge, that the administrative power, at the 
present day omnipotent and concentrated about the very heart of the 
State, can only wisely be limited and balanced by other mighty forces, 
whose component parts should work freely ; and already our glances are 
directed towards that one, of all our institutions, where abides some feeble 
remnants of the liberties of ancient France — I mean the institution of 
General Councils of our departments. 

Great and legitimate hopes lie in this direction ; there lies the germ of 
a fruitful institution, as is proved by our esteem for these modest 
assemblies. But this esteem is only a happy sign, a wholesome presage ; 
the call to follow in this track is but faint. What, indeed, in a vast 
empire can these feeble deliberative, or rather consultative bodies, effect 
— elected only yesterday, without any grave powers, meeting so rarely, and 
for so short a time ? What a wide interval between them and the 
ancient meetings in our country of States and of Provincial Assemblies,* 
the happy attributes of which, before the French Eevolution, an eloquent 
and able pen has recently recalled to our memory. What are they, in 
fine, compared with those Provincial States which in neighbouring 
countries — in Belgium and in Holland — are, through their delegates, 
permanently and successfully acting as the agents of the executive power ? 

It is not solely as a guarantee of the maintenance of the public 
liberties that the prerogatives and the authority of our departmental 
assemblies should be increased ; it is desirable they should possess 
enlarged powers in order that those who take part in their deliberations 
should be raised in rank thereby; thus the right to sit in them would 
become the object of a high and legitimate ambition, the sole means 
perhaps of mitigating the evil which devours us, of arresting that furious 

* See the remarkable work of M. de Lavergne, on " The Provincial Assemblies of 
France previous to 1789." 


and disordered movement which precipitates the provinces upon Paris, 
•which each day draws away from the limbs of the social body more 
blood and more vital strength to throw them upon the heart, where the 
plethora is mortal.* 

Statesmen, celebrated publicists, have understood the necessity of 
creating or rather of re-establishing throughout the extensive territories 
of our departments the powerful elements of local forces, and of strong 
incentives to human activity. 

Already in some parts power has been brought together to act on the 
springs of justice, of military authority, and of public instruction. It 
remains to give action to this power. This appears possible only by 
reanimating in a sufficient degree the representative elements of the 
country, so that the elective assemblies shall represent not simply de- 
partments, but vast portions of the soil, called indifferently territorial 
or seignorial divisions. 

I shall dare to go farther ; and may my presumption be pardoned to 
one of the historians of our old France ! I shall dare to dispute the 
right to obliterate some of the names of our ancient provinces, at the risk 
of wounding that fatal levelling tendency in France beneath which I 
have always seen, whether under a monarchical or republican form, the 
most powerful auxiliary to despotism. It has dragged our sires over that 
dangerous path opened by the author of the " Contrat Social," when out of 
hatred for privileges they brought down all things to the level of 
tyrannical unity, and when they thought that in order to be free it 
sufficed to be equal. The members of the Constituent Assembly at 
least acted logically : resolved to erase every vestige of the institutions of 
our country; all powerful in the centre of the State; — it being moreover 
necessary to their purpose to render all opposition impossible — there were 
no more effectual means for the execution of their project than those 

* I can only give here a few sketches, and it is not the place to create a system. 
Preoccupied, in the interests of general liberty, with increasing the power of the great 
provincial elective assemblies, I have not spoken of the cantonal and communal organi- 
zation. It will be understood that these will form the basis of the institutions destined 
to moderate the administrative central force, and to balance it. A celebrated writer, 
Mr. John Stuart Mill, has said : " In many cases though individuals may not do the 
particular thing so well, on the average, as the officers of Government, it is never- 
theless desirable that it should be done by them rather than by the Government, as 
a means to their own mental education." I invite the reader to peruse the excellent 
comments of M. Edou'ard Laboulaye, on the system of Mr. Mill, in his w oik, "De 
l'Etat et de ses limites,'' pp. 53-68. 


they conceived and carried out. Perceiving an obstacle to their 
enterprise in the ancient provincial organization of the country, they 
extinguished our provinces ; they divided them, split them up into 
scanty fragments, deprived them of all common action, and of all those 
natural bonds created by heroic names, memorials, and historical tradi- 
tions. The provinces thus isolated and separated one from the other, 
it presently needed but the word of a master to prevent their making the 
least effort without his orders, or of settling for themselves the simplest 
question or the most trifling affairs. Paris thus became more and 
more the burning hearthstone of all our interests, of all political contests, 
and of all ambition ; the equilibrium of the body social has been dis- 
turbed for the apparent benefit of .a single city ; on the banks of the 
Seine there has been concentrated movement and life, whilst almost 
everywhere else there is nought but paralysis and death. 

I am of those who are struck by the perils of such a state of things, 
and who believe that it is imperative to act against the baleful tendency 
which dragged our fathers so far. To carry out our purpose, we 
must show ourselves to be as logical as they were ; they have mutilated 
and divided the limbs of France in order to enfeeble them ; we must now 
restore life to them, reunite them and group them together according to the 
natural affinities indicated by geography and by history. That which 
has been overthrown to the vital prejudice of local liberties, the 
veritable ramparts of all political liberties, we must restore in the 
highest possible degree, for the advantage of those very liberties to which 
we afresh aspire, and which an august speaker has rightly called the 
crowning of the edifice. 

Utopia ! cry the clever and superstitious admirers of unity. I am 
aware how strongly prejudice acts against such a work, against any re- 
constitution of provincial powers. A writer already cited, M. Lavergne, 
although he has demonstrated better than any one else the action of the 
provincial assemblies created under Louis XVI., yet seems to me not to 
have completely comprehended all the bearings of the act which has 
destroyed our provinces. " This act," he says, " by which appellations 
derived from a river or a mountain have been substituted for the ancient 
names of the provinces of France, had neither advantages nor disadvan- 
tages, being only revolutionary child's play." No, it is not child's play to 
substitute for a national name, surrounded by the spell of centuries, a 
new name which recalls nothing to the mind — to the memory. It is in 


this respect that states and bodies are constituted like historical families ; 
in snatching from them their past, their traditions, the honour and renown 
of their acts, you deprive every one of the high ambition of being allied 
with them, of the legitimate pride of being an off-shoot from them. 
Alas, France, so jealous of her honour, of her preponderance, towards 
foreign nations, is afraid of herself and of her past ! Her history, if one 
of the most humble of those who have written it may be permitted to say 
so, her history is that of her provinces ; we cannot read a page of it 
without meeting their glorious names, those of her ancient geogra- 
phical subdivisions, so familiar to the ears of our ancestors, and so 
rapidly being effaced from our own minds. The French provinces appear 
not only in our own history but in the history of Europe, in the literature 
of all the peoples of the world ; some of these provinces have conquered 
kingdoms ; they reappear everywhere except in our own official and 
political language and on our own maps, to the inexpressible astonish- 
ment of strangers, but not of ourselves ! * This forgetfulness is so great, 
this sad prejudice so deeply rooted that it is doubtful whether France 
could of herself open her eyes to the enormity of the injury 
she has done against herself : a cruel and deep wound which 
perhaps only a firm will at the summit of the State can close and 
heal. Come what may, the glory — a pure and lasting glory — 
will be assured to the prince who, without lessening the proper powers 
of the State, shall create, or rather re-establish in France, under 
whatever denomination, numerous centres of interests, of powerful 
action, and of life ; to him who, like the prophet of old, shall say, 
"Arise!" to these languishing limbs of the State, to these dry bones ; 
to him who shall found in various parts of the empire firm institutions, 
natural protections of the rights and interests of all, and, to use the 
words of an illustrious man, "capable, should they be wounded, of uttering 
a loud and succour-bringing cry of anguish. ""j" 

But, as we know, just as the most solid ramparts oppose but a poor re- 
sistance if they have not behind them disciplined arms and intrepid hearts, 

* That which I believe to be desirable and practicable to save from oblivion the old 
names of our provinces exists, and has been recently enforced upon a very important 
point as to territory. The names of Savoy and of Upper Savoy have been given to two 
new departments of France. What danger can there now be of doing for the interior 
of the Empire, and for provinces of France centuries old, that which has been done 
without disadvantage and without fear for a frontier territory of recent annexation? 

+ Koyer-Collard. 


so we see the best institutions offer but a weak defence if those who 
possess them have not the heart to maintain, and are ignorant how 
to defend them : they always show themselves feeble and clumsy, if 
they be not surrounded by moral and temporal interests to watch over, 
by rights and liberties to demand or to maintain ; sole means by which 
all can be gradually brought to comprehend and to practise their duty 
towards their country. It is thus that the men of our workshops and 
of our fields may rise to a sense of the public weal, above the too 
material occupations which at this day absorb, without enlarging, their 

Among the rights and liberties which every Frenchman has an interest 
in demanding or in defending, the most sacred are those of conscience 
and of worship. The noblest minds of our time, belonging to parties 
the most opposite, but alike animated by love of country and of wise pro- 
gress, agree in the view that religious liberty is the root and the mother 
of the most essential of the liberties of modern peoples. Those who 
are free, and those who aspire to become so ; all, Catholics or Pro- 
testants, declare the religious sentiment, a firm Christian belief, to be the 
grand foundation of the liberty, no less than the prosperity of some of the 
neighbouring peoples, and the most powerful instrument for resisting 
internal tyranny or foreign oppression.* My voice joins with their 
eloquent voices in protesting against all trammels imposed upon the free 
exercise of religious worship ; against maintaining by the edicts of 
authority, a pretended uniformity of belief, too often only an apparent 
uniformity, the sad product of indifference or ignorance, and which 
before long conducts a people to the worst of deaths — by moral and 
spiritual atrophy. 

It imports very much less whether men belong to this or that Christian 
community, than that they hold in their hearts the belief in God and the 
gospel. The chief, the indispensable thing is, that they should be 
Christians, and Christians by conviction. In vain during modern days, 
so different from antique times, shall we seek for a free nation outside 
Christianity, a truth which is comprised in the grand words of De Tocque- 
ville : "If the people are unbelievers, they must be serfs; if they are 
free, they must be believers." No perils then in liberty : in throwing off 

* I shall cite only three, because in my eyes they are the most eminent representa- 
tives of the three distinct religious tendencies — MM. de Montalembert, de Pi-essense", 
and Laboulaye. All three are unanimous on the point. 


externally an illegal and tyrannical yoke, men will retain for themselves 
that of divine law, the most lawful and most sacred of all yokes ; and 
whilst astonishing the world by prodigies of heroism, they will not terrify 
it by their crimes. Servants of a living God and of the gospel, they will 
accomplish what anti- Christian France of the eighteenth century could 
not achieve. Should liberty be wanting to them, they must conquer 
it, and having conquered it, they must guard it. 

Stop here. I thought that a profession of principles, clear and 
distinct, would not be out of place at the head of a work wherein I have 
endeavoured to draw from events a moral lesson, and to demonstrate 
under what conditions a people acquires liberty and preserves it. Of 
these conditions some are universal and immutable, as I have already 
shown in another work.* Others necessarily vary according to time, 
circumstances, and the genius of races. But if it be true that popular 
liberty consists in a whole people participating in the direction of its 
own affairs, it is but a delusion if this participation be only imaginary. 
Popular liberty is only possible in our vast modern states by the voice of 
representation, and we cannot have a Government representative and free 
save when representation is sincere and thorough. 

The continued violation of this vital condition of free governments 
necessarily conduces to despotism, or to fresh revolutions ; a formidable 
truth which cannot too strongly be brought to light during the present 
period when political liberty appears ready to take root in France. I have 
essayed this work, the more difficult because of the narrow limits of my 
framework. I have done my task without anger, most often with sorrow, 
always with a profound feeling of the duties of the historian, of the dan- 
ger towards unborn generations of ignoring the truth as to contemporary 
times. It is undoubtedly fitting that all friends of the public weal, 
to whatever party they may formerly have belonged, should forget their 
dissensions ; it is good that they should mutually pardon each other's 
errors and defects ; but it is needful that they institute a severe scrutiny 
of these errors and defects. Merely to throw a convenient veil over the 
past is not to serve but to compromise the cause of those liberties which 
we love and which we have lost ; — is, as I have already stated, to bring 
back that very evil which has not been able to preserve these liberties 
from shipwreck. 

Free institutions and the great principles which they represent, 

* " Histoire d'Angleterre depuis l'origine jusqu'a la Kevolution franyaise." 


are the highest expression of political genius among the civilized 
nations of modern Europe. The governments of the monarchs of the 
stagnant East, of the Caesars of pagan Eome, of Sultans and of Viziers, 
are the governments of infant or decrepit peoples steeped in ignorance or 
brutishness. There is nothing there to imitate, nothing to borrow for the 
French nation — a viril and Christian nation. The Prince who governs 
France has already many times expressed the generous desire to increase 
her franchises. That desire is sincere. I will never admit that an able 
Prince, knowing his strength, and imbued with the feeling of true 
greatness, would prefer the enjoyment of absolute power to the honour 
of reigning over a people truly free ;. I will not believe that any monarch 
would not, like one of our old rulers, be more happy and more proud to 
command Freemen than Slaves, Franks than Serfs. 

In extending my work to a recent and very celebrated date, in 
alluding to deep wounds still bleeding, I have not deceived myself as to 
the perils of the enterprise. Warnings as to it have not been wanting, 
and friendly voices have been raised, telling me that notwithstanding my 
efforts to reconcile truth with the respect due to character, to talent, and to 
misfortune, it would be rashness in me to display perhaps a wide diver- 
gence from men very properly highly placed in public esteem : but their 
acts belong to history, and the time is past when I should be able to pardon 
in myself the apprehensions of vulgar prudence. I have reached that 
period of life when duty is endowed in men's eyes with renewed authority, 
when a single ambition is allowed to reside in our souls — that of being 
useful to mankind. I have but one thing to ask from men, a very great 
thing, it is true, and most difficult to obtain from them — their confidence. 

I ask it for the historian very much more than for the work, necessarily 
imperfect. What a field for errors, indeed, the space of twenty cen- 
turies ! But in soliciting the indulgence of the reader for my faults, 
I believe that I have never given to any one the right to place in doubt 
my veracity, my sincerity as a writer. If, notwithstanding all my efforts, 
I have not been able, in touching upon a contemporary period, to 
steer completely clear of reefs or rocks, I make bold to allege in 
my justification the grand and simple words that have run through 
the centuries, and which every historian worthy of the name should 
carefully preserve in the depths of his heart — I believe ; that is why I 

have spoken. 

Emile de Bonnechose. 

























THE PALACE IN NEUSTRIA . . . . . . . .70 











THE FAT 109 


















HENRY 1 147 

PHILIP 1 149 


LOUIS VI. 160 

louis vii 163 



chap. iv. eeign op philip ii., surnamed augustus, and op louis viii. . 167 

philip ii. 167 

louis viii 178 

— v. eeign op louis ix. (saint louis) 180 

vi. general considerations upon the state of france, and upon 

the events which transpired during the past three centu- 
ries, from the accession of hugh capet to the death of 
saint louis 192 







louis x 220 

PHILIP V. 221 











— IV. REIGN OF LOUIS XII. ' . . . . 332 





























The vast territory contained between the Rhine, the Alps, the 
Pyrenees, and the Ocean, and which is now almost entirely known 
as France, originally bore the name of Gaul. In the most remote 
periods it was occnpied by the Celtic race of the Gaels and by the 
Iberians. The Gaels formed the basis of the Gallic population, and 
drove the Iberians back into Spain. Still, the latter people did not 
entirely disappear from the soil of France, but partly occupied some 
southern countries, under the name of Aquitanians or Ligurians. 

The Phoceans, a people of Greece, eventually formed important 
establishments in the south of Gaul ; and one of their colonies founded 
the city of Marseilles, or Massalia. 

Another nation, that of the Kymrys,* made an irruption into Gaul 
about three centuries B.C., the greater part of them settling between 
the Seine and the German Ocean. These Kymrys are identical 
with the Belgas or Belgs mentioned by Caesar, to whom he attri- 
butes a German origin. A portion of the Kymrys went even 

* The Kymrys are generally confounded with the Cimbri. This opinion has recently 
met with learned contradictors ; one of' whom, M. Roget de Belloquet, in his "Gallic 
Glossary," an introduction to his " Gallic Ethnology," regards the Kymrys as closely 
related with the Gaels, and considers the Cimbri as an entirely different and essentially 
Germanic nation. 


farther, and established themselves upon the seaboard as far as the 
month of the Loire, where they received the name of Armoricans, or 
maritime races. All these tribes are indistinctly designated in history 
by the name of Grauls. They were generally distinguished for frank- 
ness, courage, and generosity : they were hospitable, but intemperate ; 
fond of sumptuous repasts, and ready for quarrels, which frequently 
ensanguined their banquets. They were divided into a multitude of 
smaller tribes or clans, constantly engaged in war with each other. 

The Grauls originally adored the material forces of nature, thunder, 
the winds, and the planets ; but as they advanced in civilization they 
•worshipped the moral powers, and deified the virtues and the arts. 
Their best-known divinities are, Hesus, the genius of war ; Teutates, 
the god of commerce and inventor of the arts ; and Oginius, the god 
of eloquence and poetry. 

Their priests, called Druids, were divided into three orders : the 
druids, properly so called, who were the interpreters of the laws, 
instructors of youth, and judges of the people ; next, the vates, or 
ovates, intrusted with the divinations and sacrifices ; and, lastly the 
hards, who preserved in their songs the reminiscences of national tradi- 
tions, which they were forbidden to record in writing, and the exploits 
of their heroes. 

The priesthood was hierarchical, and had as its head a sole chief 
elected for life, whose power was unbounded. The ovates and bards 
lived in public as members of the community ; but the druids of the 
first class dwelt together in profound retreats, where they initiated into 
their mysteries and sciences the young disciples who aspired to the 
sacred functions. The novitiate was painful, and sometimes lasted 
twenty years ; but the great privileges attaching to the druids, their 
exemption from taxation, the respect shown to them, and the authority 
they exercised, concurred to attract numerous disciples. Their books 
and precepts were composed in verse, "and were learned by heart ; for it 
was an invariable rule with them that no law should be recorded in 
writing. They taught the immortality of souls, and their perpetual 
transmigration, until they deserved admission to the celestial mansions. 
They were versed in natural philosophy. Cassar, in his " Commentaries 
on the Gallic War," tells us that they instructed youth in the movements 
of the stars and the grandeur of the universe, as well as in the nature 


of things and the power of the immortal gods, the most revered of 
whom was Mercury, inventor of all the arts, guide of travellers, and 
protector of commerce. 

There were among them druidesses, or females affiliated to their 
order, some of whom adhered to celibacy. These women were the 
object of great veneration : they were supposed to have a foreknowledge 
of events, and were said to be endowed with the gift of curing 
diseases and commanding the elements. 

At certain periods of the year, and on all solemn occasions, the druids 
made sacrifices, offering to the gods the fruits of the earth, domestic 
animals, and human victims. They believed, with the majority of the 
ancient nations, that human life could alone be ransomed by that of 
their fellow-men, and that the offering most agreeable to the gods was 
the blood of criminals. They also sacrificed prisoners of war ; and, 
in default of culprits or captives, a victim was designated by lot : 
frequently, too, men devoted themselves in order to appease the wrath 
of the gods. The sacrifices were effected either by fire, which con- 
sumed wicker-work monsters in which the priests enclosed the victims 
or by the sword r upon large stones hollowed out on the surface, and 
which, laid horizontally on other stones placed in a vertical position, 
formed altars called dolmans. A great number of these are still in 
existence, and clumsy representations of trees and animals may be 
seen carved on them.* 

The druids attributed a medical and magical virtue to vervain, 
snakes' eggs, and, above all, to mistletoe, which they plucked with 
mysterious ceremonies from oaks, trees regarded by them as being 
under the special protection of the gods. They had their retreats 
and principal sanctuaries in the depths of gloomy forests, where no 
one was allowed to fell or lop wood. The people believed these sacred 
retreats inaccessible to wild animals, impenetrable by the storm, and 
protected from lightning : the ground in them, it was said, trembled, 
and abysses opened, from whence darted snakes that clung to the 

* In some parts of France, and especially in the west, other druidic monuments are 
found called pentvans or mencheis ; they are enormous blocks of uncut stones, set up 
either separately, or arranged in several rows in avenues, as at Carnac, where they form 
eleven parallel lines covering an immense extent of ground. A third variety of druidic 
monuments consists of tumuli, ,or conical mounds of earth surmounting a tomb. 

E 2 


trees, which bent and straightened of their own accord, while the 
whole forest sparkled with fires. The druids kept in these forests the 
military standards, to which they alone had access ; and it is recorded 
that they were themselves not uninfluenced by terror on entering them. 
The power exercised by the druids was not solely religious, but 
political and social, for they were at the same time priests and 
magistrates. At a solemn assembly held twice a year on the frontier 
of the country of the Carnutes (pays Ohartrain), which was reputed 
to be the central point of Gaul, they delivered judgment and had 
cognizance of nearly all public and private disputes. If any crime was 
committed, or a quarrel ensued about an inheritance, they decided it ; 
and to them also belonged the right of rewarding and punishing. The 
most formidable punishment was the interdict, and they pronounced 
it against any man who proved rebellious or indocile to them. Those 
whom the druids had interdicted from sacrificing were placed in the 
ranks of criminals, any appeal to justice was closed to them, and they 
were shunned as though afflicted with a contagious disease. 

Among the Gauls each tribe had, at the first, its special chief, 

who ordinarily assumed the title of king. These princes, almost 

absolute in war, were during peace subject, like the rest of the nation, 

to the despotic authority of the priests, who were for a lengthened 

period omnipotent in Gaul. Each tribe had also a species of military 

equestrian corps, composed of nobles or knights. Around these, men 

assembled — persons of free though inferior condition, who selected from 

- among the nobles a defender or patron, to whom they attached them- 

: selves. They escorted him everywhere, followed him to the wars, and, 

in exchange for the protection and rewards they awaited at his hands, 

• devoted themselves to his person, even more than to his fortune, and 

were ready to die or live for him. The rank of a noble or knight was 

^estimated by the number of followers who formed his escort. The 

\mass of the population had no participation in public affairs, save in 

revolutions caused by the rivalry of the knights, priests, and nobles, 

which were as frequent as the quarrels and wars between the various 

tribes. Still, in spite of these clannish feuds, the sentiment of a 

common nationality existed among the Gauls; and at certain periods 

deputies from all the tribes assembled to watch together over the 

interests of the whole community. 


It was impossible for the numerous tribes, which were more 
occupied with war than with the cultivation of the soil, to find 
sufficient resources among themselves. Several of them emigrated 
en masse. Countless hordes left Gaul at different epochs and spread 
over the adjacent countries and even remote lands, which they ra- 
vaged, and where they went to conquer a new country. Among the 
causes which produced these migrations, the chief, next to want of 
food, was the temper of the Gauls, to whom repose was disagreeable, 
and who, rather than remain at home in peace, entered the military 
service of foreign nations.* Frequently, too, the tribes conquered in 
civil discords, abandoned their country, and sought fortune far away. 

There arose in various parts of the world, nations originating in 
Gallic colonies : one of these, in Spain, formed, by fusion with the 
natives, the celebrated nation of the Celtiberians, who offered the 
most strenuous resistance to the Roman invasion ; and others settled 
in different points of Great Britain, peopling, in the course of time, 
the entire southern seaboard of that island. The Gauls also burst 
into Italy on several occasions ; one of their tribes, the Umbrians, 
invading that country about fourteen centuries B.C. and establishing" 
themselves in that portion to which the name of Umbria has adhered. 
Eight centuries later (590 B.C.) two brothers, Bellovisus and Sigovisus, 
nephews of a celebrated king of the Bituriges (inhabitants of Berri), 
each directed the flood of a formidable invasion, one in Italy, the 
other in Germany. The army of Bellovisus crossed the Alps, being- 
attracted, so it is said, by the delicious fruits of the south ; invaded- 
the country to the north of the Po, and founded Milan. Fresh- 
swarms of Gauls came one after the other to settle in the entire 
northern part of Italy, to which the Romans gave the name of Gallia 
Cisalpina (or Gaul on their side of the Alps). The principal nations 
that emanated from these various immigrations were — to the north of" 
the Po, the Insubri and Cenomani, and, to the south of that river, the 
Boieni, Lingones, and Senones. The last, in the year 390 B.C., de- 
scended southward, encountered and defeated a Roman army on the 
banks of the Allia, captured Rome, and attacked the Capitol. While 

* The kings of Egypt, Macedonia, Epirus, Carthage, Syracuse, and the monarchs 
of Asia, paid a heavy price for the help of the Gauls, whose bravery iWas so highly - 
esteemed that it was thought impossible to have a good army without them. 


Italy was thus a prey of the Gauls, Germany was also troubled by 
them. Those who followed Sigovisus penetrated as far as Pannonia, 
between the Danube and the Save, whence, at a later date, fresh bands 
rushed like a torrent over Macedonia and Greece. Other Gauls 
founded a colony in Thra , and then invaded Asia Minor, where 
they established themselves under the name of Galatians. " Gaul," 
says Etienne Pasquine, "like a large tree, thus extended its branches 
for a long distance, and the terror of the Gallic name spread over 
all the countries of the universe." 

What Tacitus said of the Britons might equally be said of the 
Gauls : if they had been united, they would have been invincible. 
But we have seen how perpetual wars affected the interests of the 
numerous tribes or clans. They formed great and powerful confedera- 
tions among themselves for the common defence ; but war was 
waged among these confederations in the same way as among the 
separate tribes ; and the Romans ever had the art of securing the 
support of one to crush the other. They did not venture across 
the Alps till they had subjugated Cisalpine Gaul ; and they awaited 
a favourable occasion to extend their conquest further. They were 
in this matter powerfully seconded, not only by the war which 
the numerous Gallic tribes waged against each other, but also by 
the civil troubles and internal dissensions between the various classes. 
About three centuries before the Christian era, the royal government 
was abolished in most of the cities of Gaul, in the midst of sanguin- 
ary revolutions : the warriors and the druids disputed the authority, 
and the whole of Gaul was weakened by their divisions. 

This intestine contest was still going on when, a century and a half 
before the Christian era, the Greek inhabitants of Massalia (Marseilles) 
invoked the assistance of Borne against the enterprises of some 
Gallic tribes in the vicinity. The Bomans responded to this appeal ; 
and, after conquering the Gauls, gave their territory to the city they 
had succoured. Thirty years later, summoned by the Massaliotes 
against a neighbouring Gallic nation, the Salic Ligurians, the Bomans 
were again victorious ; but on this occasion t they retained a portion 
of the conquered territory, and built, to the north of Massalia, a city 
originally called Aqua? Sextse, which is, at the present day, Aix, the 
most ancient Roman colony founded in Gaul (b.c. 123). Eventually, 


the Romans, taking advantage of disputes which had broken out 
between the confederation of the Hsedui and that of the Allobroges 
and Arverni, gained two great victories over them under the leadership 
of the consul Fabius. The second battle was fought near the Rhone, 
and was one of the most sanguinary recorded in history : one hundred 
and twenty thousand Gauls are said to have lost their lives, either in 
the waters of the river, or by the sword of the conquerors. A portion 
of the country of the Allobroges (Dauphine) was reduced to a Roman 
province, as was the entire seaboard of the Mediterranean as far as 
the Pyrenees.* 

The Romans founded there, 118 B.C., a celebrated colony, that of 
Narbonne, and gave the name of JSTarbonensis to the vast and splendid 
province which they formed in the south of Gaul. For this name 
that of Septimania was eventually substituted for the country situated 
between the Pyrenees and the Rhone ; the territory contained between 
the latter river and the Alps alone retaining the name of Province 
or Provence. 

The Romans did not cross the limits of the colony until about the 
middle of the first century B.C. They had in the interval to repulse 
a formidable invasion, that of the Teutons, who rushed, like a torrent 
which had overflowed its bed, over the Narbonensis. Marius exter- 
minated the invaders in the year 102, near the city of Aix. Forty 
years later, Julius Caesar appeared, and sought to acquire, by con- 
quering Gaul at the head of the Roman legions, a sufficient title to 
reduce Rome herself to serfdom. 

*With the Romans, that portion of the Transalpine whose conquest preceded the 
arrival of Caesar in Gfaul, was the Province. Hence their authors are frequently found 
■designating it "by the name Provincia. At a later date the epithet of Narbonensis 
was added, when Narbonne had become its chief city. From the Latin Provincia is 
derived Provence, which title, before it was restricted to that portion of the French 
territory which still retains the name, spread for a long time over the whole of 
France. Sometimes the province was called by the name of Gallia braccata — 
derived from the breeches, in Latin braccce, which the inhabitants wore ; and also in 
opposition to the Cisalpine, where the Roman garment, the toga, was adopted at an 
early period, whence the Province obtained the name of Gallia togata. That part of 
Transalpine Graul which still retained its independence was called Hairy Gaul, or Gallia 
comata, the various tribes being remarkable for their long hair, while the inhabitants of 
the Province wore theirs short, after the Roman fashion. (Courgeon, " Recite de 
VHistoire de France" vol. i., p. 43, note 1.) 




In his immortal work, the " Commentaries," Caesar has himself drawn, 
the picture of the country, at the period when he arrived in it as Pro- 
consul. "The whole of Gaul," he says, "is divided into three parts, 
of which one is inhabited by the Belgae, another by Aquitani, and the 
third by those whom we call, at Rome, Galli, and who, in their lan- 
guage, call themselves Celti. These nations differ from each other in 
language, manners, and laws. The Gauls (Celts) are separated from 
the Aquitanians by the Garonne, from the Belgians by the Marne and 
the Seine. The Belgse are the bravest of all these tribes ; strangers 
to the elegant manners and civilization of the Roman Province, they 
do not receive from external trade those products of luxury which 
enervate courage ; and, moreover, as neighbours of the Germans who 
live on the other bank of the Rhine, they are continually at war with 
each other. 

" The part inhabited by the Gauls (Celts) begins at the Rhone, 
and has for its boundaries the Garonne, the ocean, and the country of 
the Belgee ; it also extends as far as the Rhine on the side of the 
Helvetii (Swiss) and Sequani (Franche Comte) ; it is situated in the 
north. The country of the Belgae begins at the extreme frontier of 
Gaul, and is bounded by the lower part of the course of the Rhine ; its 
position is in the north-east. Aquitania is bounded by the Garonne, 
the Pyrenees, and the ocean." 

These three great nations were divided, as we have already seen, into 
a multitude of independent states, in the majority of which royalty 
had been abolished for the last three centuries, and which were 
governed by an aristocratic assembly, called by the Romans the 
Senate, in which two factions disputed the power. One of the 
most frequent causes of discord was the choice of alliances which 
it was necessary to make, in the midst of the general conflagration 
frequently produced by the rivalry of two tribes. " In Gaul," says 
Caesar, " each town, each canton, and nearly each family, is 
divided into factions : before the entrance of the Roman legions 
into Gaul, .some inclined to the Hsedui, and others to the Sequani. 


The latter, too weak of themselves, because the principal authority- 
had been for a long time in the hands of the Haedui who possessed 
the largest number of supporters, had united with Ariovistus, king 01 
the Germans, whom they attached to them by presents and promises. 
Victors in several battles, in which they destroyed the whole of the 
Haeduan nobility, the Sequani acquired so much power, that a great 
number of tribes, formerly allied to the Haedui, went over to their side. 
They took away as hostages the sons of the chief citizens, imposed on 
the nation the oath to undertake nothing against them, seized that 
portion of the territory conquered by their armies, and obtained the 
preponderance through the whole of Gaul." Such was the internal 
state of the country when Caesar appeared there. 

The future conqueror first displayed himself to the Gallic nations in 
the character of a protector. They were menaced by a formidable 
invasion. Three hundred thousand Helvetians, after burning their 
own towns, and ruining their own fields, so as to destroy all hope 
of return, had just invaded the country of the Sequani and the 
Haedui. These innumerable hordes had already commenced an 
attack on the neighbouring Allobroges, when, summoned by these 
nations, Caesar hurried up at the head of his legions, defeated the 
Helvetians in three sanguinary engagements, and drove them beyond 
the Jura, into the deserts they had themselves produced. Deputies 
from nearly the whole of Gaul (Celtica) afterwards came to congratu- 
late the victorious hero. 

Some time later, after the general assembly of the Gauls had 
been convened, the same citizens returned to Caesar ; and, throwing 
themselves at his feet, conjured him to deliver them from Ariovistus 
and his Germans, who, called in by the imprudent Sequani, were now 
oppressing their own allies and the whole of trembling Gaul. Caesar 
alone could save the country from an impending and cruel servitude. 
The Proconsul responded to their appeal and marched against the 
terrible Ariovistus. The Germans were defeated, and the debris of 
their dispersed army only halted on the banks of the Rhine, twenty 
leagues from the field of battle. This was Caesar's first campaign 
in Gaul. 

The domination of the Germans was succeeded by that of the 
Homans; Caesar imposed his will on the country ; and the Gauls (Celts) 


soon perceived that they had given themselves a master in this 
formidable auxiliary. They desired a change, some through patriotism, 
others through inconstancy and levity of character. # They applied to 
the Belga3 to deliver them from the Romans, just as they had, in 
the previous year, called the latter to help them against the Germans. 
The Belgians entered into a league : but Ca3sar had made an alliance 
with one of their most important tribes, the Remi ; and, introduced 
by them into the heart of Belgium, he crushed the confederates on 
the banks of the Aisne with a frightful carnage, and then exter- 
minated the Meroii (people of Hainault), beyond the Sambre. Of 
60,000 combatants scarce 500 escaped, and the name of the nation 
disappeared. The Adriatici (a people encamped between the Sambre 
and the Meuse) being, however, still in arms in Belgium, Caesar 
stormed Mannes, their principal town, massacred a part of its defenders, 
and reduced the rest to servitude, no less than 53,000 prisoners being 
sold as slaves. His lieutenant, Crassus, next subjugated Armorica. 
Caesar had only appeared, and already the whole of Gaul seemed 
conquered. At the news of this extraordinary success, fifteen days' 
rejoicings were decreed at Rome. 

But the resolutions of the Gauls were prompt and unforeseen. In 
the following year (56 B.C.) Caesar, who was then in Illyria, learned 
that the tribes of Armorica were holding as prisoners the military 
tribunes who had gone among them as friends to procure provisions 
for the seventh legion, which was in winter quarters in the territory 
of the Andes (Augenvins). The Veneti,f reassured by the situations 
of their towns, which were inaccessible by land and defended by 
an internal sea (the gulf of Morbihan), with whose ports, isles, 
and shoals the Romans were unacquainted, had given the signal; 
and their neighbours at once imitated them : the Britons, inhabiting 

* Commentaries (Book ii.). Caesar frequently dwells on these traits of the Gallic 
character. "It is the custom in Gaul," he writes, "to compel travellers to stop, 
in order to interrogate them about what they know or what they have heard said. 
In the towns, the people surround the merchants, question them about the countries 
whence they came, and urge them to tell what they have learnt. It is on such rumour 
and reports that they frequently decide the most important matters ; and they do not 
fail to repent of having thus put faith in uncertain news, which is frequently invented 
to please them. " 

f Tribes of Morbihan whose capital was Dariorigum, at the present day Vannes. 


the island of Britain, also promised them assistance. Caesar there- 
upon marched up from Illyria ; and, although the Romans were 
almost strangers to the navigation of the ocean, a fleet was built by 
his orders at the mouth of the Loire. Thus prepared, the Romans 
attacked the enemy's fleet, and captured most of their ships, by 
boarding them : a calm that set in compelled the rest to surrender. 
The most distinguished of the warriors were put to death ; and Caesar, 
entering the capital as an irritated victor, caused the senators to 
be killed by way of example, and sold the whole of the conquered 
population by auction. While he was thus subjugating Armorica, his 
lieutenant Sabinus occupied, after several engagements, all the terri- 
tory between that country and the Seine ; and Crassus, being also 
victorious in the south, between the Loire and the Garonne, and 
from the latter river to the Pyrenees, the whole of Gaul was again 
conquered, or held in subjection. 

New and innumerable enemies, however, contested his conquest with 
Caesar. Germany was agitated on hearing of the disasters in Gaul, 
and 400,000 Usipetes or Teucteres crossed the Rhine. Caesar, in spite 
of it being winter, marched against these barbarians, surprised and 
checked them at the confluence of the former river and the Meuse, 
where he exterminated nearly the whole of the horde. He then 
crossed the Rhine by a bridge, which he constructed in ten days, 
and descended the opposite bank, which point no Roman general had 
ever before reached. 

Caesar presently returned to Gaul, and, proceeding to the sea-coast, 
where Britain offered itself as a prey, he resolved to invade that 
island the same year, either to isolate the Britons from Gaul, punish 
them for the assistance they had given the Yeneti, or in order to obtain 
a further title to the admiration of the Romans. He crossed the 
straits with the infantry of two legions only, and landed in sight 
of the enemy assembled in arms on the shore. The Romans gained 
several battles ; but a tempest broke up and dispersed a portion 
of their galleys, and drove ashore eighteen vessels, with all their 
cavalry on board. Caesar had never found himself in greater danger ; 
-and never did he display more remarkable daring, resource, and bold- 
ness. He collected the wrecks of his galleys, and had others built ; 
and, besieged in his camp by the Britons whom his disaster had 


encouraged, he repulsed and pursued them, proudly dictating peace, 
and demanding hostages. But, while speaking as an irritated master, 
he was preparing to retreat, and soon after re-embarked with his 

This precipitate departure, in spite of several victories, resembled a 
flight; and Caesar consequently returned the following year (b.c. 54), 
with several legions and a formidable fleet, resolved to make the 
people of Britain fully feel the power of Rome and his own. Sailing 
from Portus Itius,* he landed without impediment, sought and 
pursued the Britons into the interior of the island, fomented divisions 
among them, attacked, defeated, and subdued them : he imposed an 
annual tribute on them, received their hostages, and returned with a 
multitude of captives, and without the loss of a single vessel. Rome 
derived but slight profit from these two expeditions ; and Caesar, as 
a great historian remarks, rather pointed out than gave Britain to his 
successors. Still, he had attained his object, in acquiring the glory 
which is ever attached to distant enterprises on little-known coasts ; 
and already he had no equal in the Roman world. 

The Gallic war, in which up to this time most of the nations had 
fought separately, appeared to be at an end ; but they united, and 
it broke out again more terrible than ever. The two chiefs of the 
new confederation, which was first formed in Belgium, were Indu- 
ciomarus of the Treviri (Treves) and Ambiorix the Eburone (Liege), 
who arranged to surprise the legions dispersed in their winter 
quarters. Ambiorix surprised, in a defile, a legion on the march, 
and exterminated it. This first success inflamed the warlike tribes 
of the north (Cambresis and Hainault), and they flattered them- 
selves with the hope of surprising a second legion, quartered in their 
country and commanded by Q. Cicero, brother of the orator. On this- 
occasion the Romans did not suffer themselves to be taken off their 
guard ; but they were shut up in their entrenched camp, which 
was at once closely invested. Caesar was a long way off, but he im- 
mediately set out, and on arriving by forced marches, with only 7000 
legionaries, dispersed the multitude of Gauls, and liberated the camp. 

* The site of Itius, which was situated on the seaboard of the country of the Morini 
(Picardy), is extremely uncertain. Some "believe that it is Calais, others Mardik. It is- 
generally thought to be the old port of Wessant, near Boulogne. 


Winter suspended military operations, but both sides prepared for 
a new war. 

So soon as spring set in, Induciomarus, the confederate of Ambiorix, 
marched against Labienus, who was quartered among the Remi ; but 
the barbarian was defeated and his head sent to the general. Caesar 
completely crushed the Treviri ; and then, marching through the 
whole forest of Ardennes, fell on the Eburones. It was necessary that 
their chastisement should be terrible. Caesar wished to destroy even 
the name of the guilty nation ; and, inviting the neighbouring German 
tribes to aid him in his vengeance, he left the territory to the first 
occupant. In a few days this unfortunate people was annihilated, and 
the whole of northern Gaul appeared, for the time, pacified. In the 
same year the general assembly of the Gauls, presided over by Caesar, 
was held at Lutetia, the capital of the Parisii. 

Caesar, however, only imperfectly attained his object by terrorism. 
So many frightful executions inflamed in the heart of his enemies 
an inextinguishable thirst for vengeance, and imparted to the con- 
quered the courage of despair. The barbarities committed in Belgium 
combined against the Romans all the nations of Gaul. A young 
Arverucan (Auvergnat) chief, named Yercingetorix, was the soul of 
the general league. Elected king by his fellow-citizens, he displayed 
in the contest an activity, an intelligence, and a heroism, which, had 
he been opposed to any other than Caesar, would have sufficed to 
liberate his country. 

The Proconsul had recrossed the Alps, his legions were scattered 
about Gaul, the winter was severe, and the snow impeded any com- 
munication between them : the moment to shake off the yoke seemed 
to have arrived. A solemn oath, taken on the collected standards, 
bound together all the principal nations of Gaul, and the revolt com- 
menced with the massacre of the Romans quartered in the city of 
Getabena, now Orleans. The news spread almost instantly to the 
furthest extremities of Gaul,* and nearly the whole country revolted. 

* " The news soon reached all the states of Gaul ; for, whenever any remarkable event 
occurs, they announce it to the neighbouring country by shouts, which are repeated from 
one to the other. Thus what had happened at Getabena at sunrise was known to the 
Arvernians before the close of the first evening, at a distance of 160 miles." — De Bella 
Gallico, b. vii. 


Yercingetorix took possession of the fortified town of Gergovia 
(Clermont), whence his emissaries spread among the Gallic tribes, 
announcing that the hour of deliverance had arrived. His appeal was 
universally listened to, a supreme council was formed of confederate 
deputies, and the chief command was entrusted to Yercingetorix, who 
was speedily surrounded by a numerous and martial army. He 
divided it into two corps, sent one southward against the Roman 
province, passed with the other through the country of the Beturiges 
(Berri), whom he induced to revolt, and prepared to attack the legions 
scattered through Belgium. 

Suddenly it was learned that Caesar had reappeared in Gaul ; and 
that, after securing the safety of the Roman province, he had crossed 
the snows of the Cevennes, ancf was now carrying fire and the sword 
into Arvernia. Yercingetorix turned back and flew to the defence of 
his native country, where, however, he wished that the Romans 
should find only a desert. The Arverni themselves burnt their cities 
so that they might not fall into the enemy's hands : twenty towns were 
thus destroyed, and only one, Avaricum (Bourges), the capital of the 
Beturiges, and one of the handsomest cities in Gaul, was spared. Caesar 
soon besieged it, took it by storm, and the whole population was 
murdered without distinction of sex or age. The conqueror next pro- 
ceeded with his whole army to besiege Grergovia. Yercingetorix had 
arrived under the wall of the city before him, and his camp was 
already set up at the foot of the ramparts. Caesar attacked it with 
his accustomed vigour ; but Yercingetorix drove the Romans in dis- 
order into the plain, where they were surrounded, and would have 
been destroyed, had it not been for the immortal tenth legion, which 
checked the advance of the enemy, and enabled the fugitives to 
re-enter their lines. 

This success inflamed the Gauls with new courage. Caesar, aban- 
doned by all their tribes excepting the Remi and the Lingones (in- 
habitants of Langues), raised the siege and retired beyond the Loire into 
the country of the Senones (Sens), where four legions were under the 
command of Labienus. The two armies joined, and Caesar, thus rein- 
forced, descended the valley of the Saone, in the direction of the 
Roman province. 

During this period, a meeting took place at Bibracte (Autun) of all 


the Gallic nations, which by common accord had accepted Vercinge- 
torix as their supreme commander. Yercingetorix had moved rapidly- 
forward to intercept the retreat of Caesar, and came up with him. The 
principal strength of the Gallic army, consisting of cavalry, was sent 
against the Roman cavalry ; but a corps of Germans in the pay of 
Caesar turned the enemy's flank, and the Gallic cavalry and infantry 
were driven into the river. With the relics of his army "Vercingetorix 
withdrew behind the walls of Alesia, one of the strongest places in 
Gaul, and Caesar immediately followed him.* 

The siege of Alesia is the most memorable event in the conquest of 
GauL Caesar undertook it with forces inferior to those of the be- 
sieged, and carried it on in sight of 200,000 Gauls, who had hurried 
up from all points to succour the city, which, being already closely 
invested, and suffering from the horrors of famine, despaired of deli- 
verance. The conqueror of Gaul never displayed greater vigour, 
prudence, and genius than upon this occasion. Three deep lines of 
gigantic circumvallated works, defended by formidable intrenchments, 
and innumerable caltrops scattered about the trenches, or sharp stakes 
driven into the ground at regular distances, separated the Roman 
camp from the city ; while other lines, no less formidable, called lines 
of countervallation, were formed between the camp and the Gallic 
army outside, running^for a distance of 14,000 paces. Notwithstanding 
these immense precautions, the Roman camp was all but surprised, 
being attacked simultaneously by the army of the confederates and 
the garrison ; but Caesar, everywhere present, with a clear head in 
the most extreme danger, surveyed calmly all the points menaced, 
and, opposing extraordinary efforts to those of the Gauls, repulsed 
their double attack. At this moment the corps of German horse 
which he had in his pay appeared, after making a long detour, in 
the rear of the Gallic army, and fiercely attacked it at the moment 
when the Roman legions were compelling it to retreat. This final 
attack, sudden and unforeseen by all but Caesar, decided the fate 

* This town was situated in the territory of the Mandubi. Its site is still undecided, 
and the question has given rise to numerous and interesting discussions among the 
learned. Some believe they find Alesia in Alase, to the n ,rtk ot Salins in Franche 
Comte, while others place it at Alese-Sanite-Eeine in Mouat Auxcis in Burgundy. The 
latter opinion appears to us the better founded, after a stm y of the text and of 
topographical charts. 


of the day, and that of Graul. A panic terror seized on the conquered, 
who fled in disorder, and fell in thousands beneath the swords of the 
victorious Romans. Vercingetorix and his army were witnesses of 
the defeats of those from whom they expected their salvation, and 
re-entered the city, which was left to itself, without provisions, and 
incapable of prolonging its defence. 

Superior to his fortune, and even to his victors, Vercingetorix sent 
a deputation to Caesar, surrendering the fortress to him, and offering 
himself as a sacrifice to save his adherents. All the chiefs, by the 
Proconsul's order, were brought before him. Vercingetorix sur- 
rendered himself. "Wearing his richest armour, and mounted on his 
war-charger, he went round the tribunal in which the impassive Pro- 
consul was seated, and, stopping in front of the conqueror, silently 
threw his javelin, helmet, and sword on the ground. Caesar was 
pitiless. The hero was thrown into chains and taken to Rome, 
where he languished in prison for six years : he was eventually 
brought forth to adorn the triumphal procession of Caesar, and then 
died by the hand of the executioner. 

Gaul never recovered from the great disaster it had undergone at 
the siege of Alesia, when, represented by the majority of its tribes, it 
was, as it were, entirely conquered in one day. A last campaign 
sufficed for Caesar to extinguish the smouldering revolt in all parts of 
the vast territory, and he did so with blood. In this way he com- 
pletely crushed the Beturiges (inhabitants of Berri), the Carnutes 
(people of the pays Chartrain), and the Bellovaci (people of Beau- 
voisis) : he passed through the whole of Belgium as a conqueror, 
and then returned south, grasping and pressing his vast prey in his 
powerful hands. The last town that resisted him was the small fort 
of Uxellodunum, in the country of the Cadurci (Quercy), which he 
took by cutting off the water supply, and barbarously lopped off the 
hands of all its defenders, whom he sent away in this state, as living 
testimonies of his anger and his vengeance. 

Such was the end of this terrible war, during which, as Plutarch 
says, Caesar, in eight campaigns, took by storm 800 towns, subjected 
300 tribes, and fought against 3,000,000 men, of whom one-third 
perished in the field of battle, or were massacred, while another third 
were reduced to a state of slavery. 


Master of Gaul, which was conquered by his arms, but whose- 
inhabitants he knew to be too brave to be held in slavery by rigour, he* 
resolved to win them by entirely different conduct, and rendered their 
yoke easy. The country was reduced to the state of a Roman 
province, but Ccesar spared it confiscations and onerous burdens : the- 
cities preserved their government and laws, and the tribute he imposed 
on the conquered was paid under the title of "military pay.'* 
Reckoning on their support for the execution of his ambitious plans, 
he enrolled the best Gallic warriors in his legions, conquered Rome 
herself by their help, and gave them in recompense riches and 
honours. The Roman Senate was opened to the Gauls.* 



The Emperor Augustus, who gave an organization to Gaul, main- 
tained the division of the country into four great provinces, but he- 
changed their limits, and gave the name of Lyonnese or Lugdunensis 
to Gallia Celtica, which was restricted to the territoiy contained between 
the Seine, the Saone, and the Loire ; and detached from it on the east a 
territory to which he gave the name of Sequanensis, and joined to 
Gallia Belgica. The latter, when thus enlarged, had for its boundaries 
the Rhine, the Seine, the Saone, and the Alps. Aquitania, hitherto 
enclosed between the Pyrenees and the Garonne, extended as far as 
the Loire ; and, lastly, Gallia ISTarbonensis was comprised between the:. 
Mediterranean, the Pyrenees, the Cevennes, and the Alps. The entire- 
country was, in addition, divided into sixty municipal circumscriptions, , 
or cities, the principal of which, after Lyons, the seat of the Roman 
government, were : Treves, Autun, Mmes, Bordeaux, ISTarbonne, Tou- 
louse, Vienne, and Aries. Eventually, under Diocletian, the Roman 
Empire was divided into four great prefectures : that of Gaul, whose 

* Julius Cissar only admitted into the Roman Senate the principal citizens of Gallia, 
Narbonensis : it was the Emperor Claudian who, in the year 48, passed the celebrated 
decree by which public offices and the Senate were thrown open to the inhabitants of 
Gallia Comata. At a later date the title of Ptoman citizen was given by Caracalla to 
all the free men of Gaul and the rest of the Empire, which caused a contemporary poet, 
to say of this Emperor : — 

" Urbem fecisti quod prius orbis erat." 
(You have made a city of what was heretofore a world.) 



chief city was Treves, comprised three great dioceses of vicarships, 
Britain, Spain, and Gaul. The latter was divided. for the last time at 
the beginning of the fourth century, by the Emperor Gratianus, into 
17 provinces, containing 120 cities. Each province was governed by 
an officer of the Empire, and the cities or towns received from the 
Romans their internal administration and civic organization: they 
were, in addition, governed by municipal assemblies, called curies, to 
which landowners were alone summoned. Occasionally, the deputies of 
all the provinces met, but these assemblies never had saij appointed or 
regular times of meeting, and they fell into desuetude. 

Gaul remained for four centuries subject to the Romans.. Every- 
thing became Roman there : there were knights and senators, and 
the druids became priests of " the Greek polytheism. There was 
indubitably a great difference between the civilization of the Northern 
and Southern Gauls ; but the religion,* the civil laws, the municipal 
government, and administrative system of Rome prevailed from one 
end of Gaul to the other. All those who possessed politeness, civiliza-, 
tion, learning, or culture, piqued themselves on being Roman. The 
two nations spoke the same language, and the name of Gallo-Romans 
bears testimony to their intimate fusion. The old national code of 
laws disappeared, and in the fifth century there was no trace of 
Gallic institutions in Gaul. 

The Gauls transferred to the arts of peace that intelligent activity 

which they had for so many years fruitlessly expended in war, and 

Roman Gaul was for a long time flourishing. The axe cut down the 

druidic forests, which made way for cultivation, and numerous roads 

facilitated the progress of commerce and industry. New cities 

were founded, and those already in existence increased in extent 

and opulence, rivalling the cities of Gallia Narbonensis. Treves, 

Mayence, Cologne, Bordeaux, grew and prospered through the 

favour of an advantageous situation for trade or war ; and Lutetia 

(Paris), reserved for such great destinies, became the residence 

of the Ceesars. Most of the Gallic towns were adorned with palaces, 

statues, thermse, and triumphal arches. At various points of the 

Gallic territory may still be seen ruins of Greek art, and imposing 

# Augustus abolished human sacrifices, and only granted the right of citizenship to 
those who abandoned the druidic rites. 


remains of aqueducts, temples, amphitheatres, and other monuments 
of Roman architecture. Schools, which soon became nourishing, were 
established in several cities. Those of Lyons, Autun, and Bordeaux 
acquired a great reputation, and produced grammarians, orators, and 
poets ; but nearly all who distinguished themselves, and, among others, 
the poets Valerius Cato and Cornelius Gallus,* and the orators Marcus 
Ca3sar and Domitius Afer, the master of Quinctilian, who lived in the 
age of Augustus, were descended from the Roman colonies of Gallia 
Narbonensis. Eventually, Gaul prided itself on having produced, in 
the fourth century, the poet Ausonius of Bordeaux ; and, in the fifth, 
Rutilius Numatianus, and Sidonius Apollinarius, who was a poet and 
bishop, and whose letters are a precious heirloom for history. 

The Emperors imagined they had annihilated druidism by proscribing 
the druids, abolishing their faith, and declaring all the Gallic gods 
Roman : but a faith is not destroyed until another has taken its place, 
and the paganism of Rome had already lost all power overmen's minds. 
What it was unable to do, Christianity effected; and the last druidic 
altars fell before the new creed in the recesses of the forests. It was 
introduced into Gaul, toward the middle of the second century, by 
some priests of the Church of Smyrna, whom the Bishop St. Poly- 
carp, a disciple of the Apostle St. John, sent to preach the Gospel 
in the Transalpine countries, placing at their head the illustrious 
Pothinus, first Bishop of Lyons. The pious missionaries settled in 
the latter city about the year 160, and diffused there the light of the 

But Rome, while introducing her civilization into Gaul, had, at the 
same time, introduced her dissolute manners and sanguinary spectacles^ 
dear to the multitude, but against which the Christians forcibly pro- 
tested by their language and example. They had thus the whole of 
Pagan society hostile to them; and, amid the bloodthirsty perse- 
cutions ordered by the Emperors, no country counted more heroic 
martyrs than Gaul, and no Church was more fertilized, by their blood 
than that of Lyons. The persecuting edict issued by Marcus Aurelius 
against the Christians produced the woes of that Church and its glory. 
The Bishop Pothinus, ninety years of age, was stoned by the people, 

* Valerius Cato, grammarian and poet, was surnamed the Latin Siren. Cornelius 
Gallus, an elegiac poet, was the friend of Virgil and Augustus. 

c 2 


and died of his wounds ; forty-seven confessors perished in the midst of 
torments, at the hands of the executioner, or were rent asunder by wild 
beasts.* St. Irenaeus, surnamed the Light of the "West, collected at a 
later date the dispersed members of the Church of Lyons, and the 
word of Christ was borne into the rest of Gaul, toward the middle 
of the third century, by seven pious bishops, who, leaving Rome for the 
most glorious of conquests, proceeded to various points of the Gallic 
territory, and all of them acquired the crown of martyrdom. Among 
these the most celebrated was St. Denis, who halted on the banks of 
the Seine at Lutetia : he was decapitated near that city on the Hill of 
Mars (Montmartre), and interred in the plain which still bears his 
name. The work of these holy confessors was successfully resumed 
in the fourth century by St. Hilarius, Bishop of Poitiers, and by St. 
Martin of Tours, whose words fructified in the west and centre of 
Gaul, where Christianity, as everywhere else, was propagated by the 
very efforts intended to annihilate it. 

Gaul, subdued by the civilization of Rome as much as by her arms, 
was, under the first Emperors, tranquil and resigned. A few daring 
chiefs, such as Julius Floras in Belgium, and Sacrovir in the Lyon- 
nese, tried in vain to rouse the Gallic tribes to revolt. They found 
themselves abandoned so soon as they took up arms against Rome, and 
perished by their own hands. But, eventually, Gaul suffered greatly 
through the disorders of the Empire and the perpetual revolutions that 
shook it. No law determined the form of accession to the imperial 
throne : the armies, scattered about the provinces, frequently arrogated 
the right of electing the sovereign, and victory decided between them. 
The Gauls took part in these sanguinary quarrels. Thus, on the death 
of Nero, being influenced by Aquitanus Vindex, they supported Galba, 
and afterwards Vitellius. On the death of the latter, they dreamed 
of regaining their independence. Civilis, aided by the prophecies of 
the celebrated druidess Velleda, collected under his banners the 
Batavi, his countrymen, and the Belga?. A Gaul of the name of 

* The history of the Church has preserved for us the names of the most illustrious 
martyrs p of this glorious epoch. Not one of them surpassed in courage the slave 
Blandina, a maiden of delicate complexion, on whom the executioner exhausted in vain 
all the refinements of the most cruel barbarity, and who, when under torture, answered 
all the efforts of her persecutors with the words, "J am a Christian " 


Sabimis assumed the title of Emperor ; the druids then emerged from 
their forests, and announced that the Gallic Empire was about to 
succeed the Roman. The insurrection spread, and two Roman legions, 
allowing themselves be led away, marched against Rome. But Ves- 
pasian was reigning, and his lieutenants, under his firm and vigilant 
authority, made the rebellious tribes and legions return to their 
obedience. Civilis defended for some time longer his independence 
in Batavia; but Sabinus, conquered, and deserted by all, hid himself 
in a vault, where his wife, Eponina, who immortalized herself by her 
conjugal tenderness and her courage, buried herself with him during 
nine years. Sabinus was at length discovered ; and Eponina, in order 
to save him, embraced the knees of the inexorable Emperor : unable 
to obtain his pardon, she resolved to follow him to the grave, sharing 
his punishment, as she had shared, during his life, his prison and his 

For nearly two centuries Gaul served as the battle-field for the 
generals who contested the Empire. Already the numerous and 
formidable tribes, formed into a grand confederation in Germany, had 
tried, on several occasions, to reach the left bank of the Rhine ; and 
occupied, on the frontiers, the principal strength of the Roman armies. 
In this incessantly returning peril, and in the midst of the general 
disorder, the ties that connected the provinces to the Empire became 
daily relaxed ; and toward the middle of the third century Gaul made 
a new effort to detach itself. The legions of the prefecture of Gaul 
recognized as Emperor, about the year 260, one of their generals, of the 
name of Posthumus, of Gallic origin, who was assassinated, and had, 
during thirteen years, several successors, known in history under the 
name of the Gallic Caesars. Tetricus, who was the last of these, weary 
of power and its dangers, betrayed his army, and surrendered himself 
to the Emperor Aurelian. 

After the voluntary fall of the Gallic chief, barbarous hordes rushed 
upon Gaul, and ravaged it. Devastated by them on the one hand, 
and, on the other, crushed with taxes imposed by the various 
candidates to empire, and exhausted of men and money, the Gallic 
cities at length fell into the most miserable condition. The fields 
remained sterile, for want of men to cultivate them ; commerce 
perished ; and so great was the desolation of these countries, that a 


great number of freemen made themselves serfs or slaves in order 
to escape the obligation of bearing a share of the public burdens. 
The serfs revolted toward the close of the third century, and, taking up 
arms under the name of Bagaudes, burned several towns, and devas- 
tated the country. Maximian crushed them ; but his victory did not 
restore life to the Gallic nation, for the decaying Empire imparted 
its own distress to all the nations it had conquered. 

Gaul breathed again, however, during a few years, under the protect- 
ing administration of Caesar Constantius Chlorus, who was called to the 
imperial throne in 305, by the double abdication of Diocletian and Max- 
imian. After him, Constantine, his son, was proclaimed Emperor by 
the army, and Christianity began its milder reign. Persecution ceased, 
and this prince, like his father, made great efforts to restore prosperity 
to the cities of Gaul, and security to its frontiers ; but the dissensions 
which troubled the Empire upon his death drew down fresh calamities 
upon it. The barbarians drove back the legions entrusted with the de- 
fence of the Rhine, as far as the Seine ; and terror reigned in the ruined 
cities of Gaul, until Constantius, the son of Constantine, sent the 
celebrated Julian, his son, invested with the dignity of Caesar, to the 
help of this unhappy country. Julian, by a memorable victory, gained 
in 357, near Strasburg, over seven Allemannic kings or chiefs, freed 
Gaul for some time from the presence of the barbarians. He selected 
as his residence the capital of the Parisians, which he called his dear 
Lutetia ; * gained the love of the people by his vigilant administration 
and justice ; and employed, with indefatigable ardour, the leisure of 
peace to repair the ravages of war. But he only offered a temporary 
remedy for continuous evils, which were too profound to be cured by 
human hands. Julian himself ascended the imperial throne on the 
death of Constantius. The period of his elevation to the rank of 
Augustus was also that of his apostasy. He abjured Christianity, and, 
in his fury, attempted to destroy it. But the light of the Gospel had 
already penetrated beyond the Roman world ; and Christianity, more 
powerful than the priests of the Empire, made its irresistible sway 
felt by the new nations which God had reserved for the over- 

* Paris, called Lutetia at that period, was almost entirely confined to the lie 
de la Cite ; but a suburb already ran along the left bank of the Seine : here stood the- 
Palace of the Thermae, inhabited by Julian, and the ruins of which still exist, and have 
retained their name. 


throw of the Empire. They completed the work of destruction 
commenced by civil discords, the want of industry, indolence, misery, 
the cowardice of the multitude, and the corruption of the higher 
classes. All that was condemned to perish was overthrown by the 
barbarians ; but they stopped before the Christian Church, which they 
found erect and established, and which subdued themselves. 



The nations that destroyed the Roman Empire were three in number : 
the Gothic nation,* the Tartar nation, or Huns, and the Teutonic 
nation. They were subdivided into a great number of peoples. 

These invasions were at the outset neither voluntary nor simul- 
taneous, but solely the consequence of other invasions. Thus, the 
emigration of the Goths in the second century drove back the Germans 
on to the frontiers of the Empire ; and two hundred years later the 
arrival of the Huns in Europe forced upon it a portion of the Goths 
themselves. Up to the Christian era, the Goths and Tartars were 
unknown to the Romans ; but this was not the case with the 
Teutonic nation, which occupied, so early as three centuries B.C., the 
vast space contained between the Rhine, the Danube, the Oder, and the 
German Ocean. All the men of this race called themselves Germans — 

. * This great people, whose traces are still visible throughout Europe, had settled on 
the shores of the Baltic ; but were driven thence by the invasion of an Asiatic 
people led by Odin into the northern countries of Europe toward the second century. 
The Goths halted on the shores of the Euxine, and there divided into two groups, which 
derived their name from their geographical position, the Visigoths, or western Goths, and 
the Ostrogoths, or Eastern Goths. In the middle of the fourth century the invasion of 
the Huns into these countries took place. The Visigoths then emigrated, and, casting 
themselves upon the Roman Empire, did not cease to ravage it till the period when 
Ataulf , brother of the terrible Alaric, founded in Southern Gaul and Spain the monarchy 
of the Visigoths (412). 

The Ostrogoths, after enduring the yoke of the Huns, went, under ^Theodoric the Great 
and with the assent of the Emperor Zeno, to reconquer Italy from the Herulians, and esta- 
blished there, in 493, the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, which perished beneath the blows 
of Belisarius and Narses in the years between 534 and 553. 

A portion of the Goths had remained in the desert. The name of Gepidse (laggards) 
was given to them. They were exterminated in the sixth century by the Lombards, at 
that time their neighbours. 


welir-m'dnner, a word in their language signifying men of war. In 
the end, the general denomination of Germany was applied to all the 
regions which they occupied. This people, however, had been divided, 
long prior to the Christian era, into two great factions, the Suevi and 
the Saxons, who were separated by the Hyrcinian forest, situated in the 
centre of Germany.* These were the Germans, who, before invading 
the Roman Empire, sustained its attacks, for so lengthened a period, in 
their gloomy forests. 

Two great historians, Caesar and Tacitus, have depicted these 
T>arbarians for us. The former shows us a pastoral people living on 
milk and the flesh of their flocks ; with no other worship than that of 
the stars, without any permanent political government, and led into 
action by chiefs temporarily elected, who were arbiters of life and death. 
The most noticeable thing we find in Tacitus, when we seek in his 
History the deep and imperishable traits that characterized in his day 
the majority of the German peoples, is a manly feeling of human 
dignity, and a love of individual independence, tempered in warlike 
minds by devotion to the chief and respect for noble blood. What in the 
highest degree attracts attention in their customs is the division of 
power between the prince and the people, the sanction of the laws by 
popular assent, and the trial of accused persons by assessors freely 
elected. Still, these forms of civilization were blended in the Germans 
with great barbarity ; and Tacitus tells us that, as the reward of their 
services, they received from their chiefs copious repasts and took 
impart in sanguinary orgies ; that they only lived for war and the chase, 
and performed superstitious rites of the most horrible kind, amid the 
cries of the human victims sacrificed by them on these occasions. Such 
was the nation destined to expel the Roraan conquerors from the soil 
of Gaul, and to found a new and great people by the admixture of 
Germanic and Gallic blood. 

All the Teutonic tribes did not participate in this work, although 

* The Teutonic people established to the south and west of the Hyrcinian forest, had 
received the name of Suevi, derived from the verb sckovehen, meaning, to be in motion. The 
Suevi, in truth, were constantly on the move, and made perpetual efforts to invade 
neighbouring countries. Those Teutons, on the other hand, who dwelt to the north of 
the forest, being less nomadic than the others, were known by the name of Saxons, a word 
■-derived from sitzen (sass in the preterite), to be seated, or at rest. This great division of 
Germany subsisted up to the second century of the Christian era, the period when the 
three great Germanic confederations were formed. 


many of them "invaded Gaul at different points. A small number of 
clans maintained themselves in the country, after a conquest which 
was for a long period slow, and limited to the northern frontiers. 
But before we observe the future masters of Gaul crossing in turn the 
Yssel, the Rhine and the Meuse, and thus adyancing step by step as 
far as the banks of the Seine, it is important that we should notice 
the events which, in the second century of the Christian era, had 
modified the state of the German tribes. 

The great emigration of the Goths from north to south had just over- 
thrown central Europe ; and a part of the Suevi, expelled by them from 
the country of the lower Danube, went up toward the sources of that 
river, between the Hyrcinian forest and the Rhine. This country 
received from them the name of Sue via or Suabia; they formed there 
a confederation of the relics of several peoples of different races, who 
adopted the general title of Allemanica, or collection of men of all 
descriptions (Allemanner) . The territory of this southern confederation 
extended between the Rhine and the Hyrcinian forest, from the Maine 
up to the Helvetic Alps. 

The peoples of Northern Germany, living to the north of the Hyr- 
cinian forest, or the Saxons, were also shaken by the Gothic migration, 
although their territory remained intact. A part of these tribes, 
nearest to the Scandinavians, being subjected by the sons of Odin, 
themselves adopted the Odinic worship : they formed a body under 
the general denomination of Saxons, and this aggregation was joined 
by the Angles, who inhabited a country called Anglia, to the south of 
the Cimbric Chersonese. Such was the origin of the Anglo-Saxons, 
the future conquerors of Great Britain, who established themselves 
on the shores of the Elbe, the Baltic, and the German Ocean. For- 
midable pirates, they spread devastation along the coasts of Gaul, 
Great Britain, and Spain, as early as the third century. 

Pressed between the imperial armies and several powerful 
•confederations of nations of their own race, the Central Germans, 
settled between the Weser and the Rhine, also recognized the necessity 
of uniting for the common defence ; and, toward the middle of the 
third century, a new confederation was formed in the countries com- 
prised between the two rivers, under the name of Francs (Franken), a 
-German word, whose meaning approaches to that of ferox, and 


signifies proud and warlike. These tribes, worthy of their name, were 
in fact the most celebrated among the barbarians for their bravery, 
and it is from them that the French have derived their name. "With 
the exception of the Frisons, who maintained their independence, they 
included in their confederation all the peoples established between the 
Rhine and the Weser, and in this number were the Bructeri, the 
Teucteri, the Chamavi, the Oatti, the Angrivarii, and the Sugambri. 
The Franks are mentioned in history for the first time in the year 241 ; 
and a few years later, in 256, a horde of this nation traversed Gaul, 
crossed the Pyrenees, ravaged Spain, and spread as far as Africa. 
The Emperor Probus transported a colony of Franks to the shores of 
the Euxine ; but they soon grew weary of their exile, and, seizing a 
few barks, they audaciously skirted the coasts of Asia, Greece, and 
Africa, passed between the Pillars of Hercules, faced the perils of the 
sea, and, following the coast as far as the German Ocean, they re- 
entered by the mouths of the great rivers the countries whence they 
originally came. 

Thus, in the third century of our era, three formidable confedera- 
tions closed Germany, from the shores of the Baltic to the sources of 
the Rhine and the Danube, against the imperial armies and fleets — the 
Saxons in the north, the Franks in the west, and the Allemanni in the 
south, while the Goths were encamped on the left bank of the 

All these nations, between which the Roman Empire of the West 
was eventually divided, did not attack it at the outset with the 
intention of destroying it. Impelled by violent and irresistible causes 
to cross its frontiers, they were all eager to have their conquests 
legitimated by imperial concessions and treaties which incorpo- 
rated them with the Empire, whose powerful organization and 
superior civilization filled them with astonishment and admiration. 
Their kings gladly assumed the Roman titles of patricians, consuls, 
and chiefs of the militia, dignities with which several of them were 
invested by the Emperors, as allies of the Empire ; and their highest 
ambition was to be united by marriage with the imperial family. 

At this period all the frontiers had received numerous military 
colonies of barbarians, hired, under the name of Letes, for the 
service of the Imperial Government, which attached them to 


it by the concession of lands, called " letic lands." " The em- 
perors," Procopius tells us, "could not prevent the barbarians 
entering the provinces ; but the barbarians, on their side, did not 
consider they actually possessed the land they occupied, so long as the 
fact of their possession had not been changed into right by the 
imperial authority." 

The Franks were among the barbarians who also received great 
concessions of territory in Gaul long before the epoch assigned to their 
first invasion by a number of historians. Repulsed from the banks of 
the Weser by the Saxons, two of the principal tribes of the Frank 
confederation, the Angrivarii first, and then the Catti, emigrated in 
the third century, and drew nearer to the banks of the Yssel, the 
frontier of Batavia. The Romans gave these Franks the name of 
Salics, or Salii, according to all appearance from that of the Tssel 
(Isala), on whose banks they had been encamped for a long period.* 
This people, by favour of the civil wars and revolts which agitated 
Northern Gaul at the end of the third century, crossed the river, and 
established themselves in Batavia. The Emperor Maximian, after 
attempting to expel them from the Empire, saw that it would be more 
advantageous to have their help in defending it ; and, about the year 
587, he allowed the Salic Franks to settle, as military colonists, between 
the Moselle and the Scheldt, from Treves (Augusta Trevirorum) as far 
as Tournay (Turnacum). 

A few years later, two other Frank tribes, the Bructeri and 
Chamavi, crossed the Rhine in order to support the claims of the 
usurper Carausius to the imperial throne. Constantius Chlorus and 

* Archaeologists have supplied different etymologies for the word Salic. I have 
adopted the one which appeared to me most probable. "M. Gfuerard has proved," says 
M. de Petigny, ' ' that the Salic land was only the glebe attached to the manor or house, 
whose name is Sal in all the German dialects, and which, as it could not be divided, did 
not form part of the inheritance of the daughters." Still, M. de Petigny does not 
believe, and I agree with him, that we can come to the conclusion that the Salie 
Franks derived their name from this usage, which was common to them with the other 
tribes of Germany. " Let us not forget," he says, "that the name of Salii was given 
them by the Romans : now, the Romans were extremely ignorant of German customs, 
and would not have sought the designation of a colony of expatriated Germans in a 
custom which was not even special to them. Is it not more natural to think that the 
Belgian Franks were called after the name of the country which they had quitted, in 
order to settle on Roman territory ? This country was the right bank of the Yssel, 
where they had lived for upwards of a century before entering Batavia. The Latin 
name of the Yssel was Isala." 


Constantine his son contended against them for a long time, and the 
Emperor Julian, after conquering them, allowed them to found a 
military colony between the Rhine and the Meuse. These Franks 
were called Ripuarii, from the Latin word ripa,* because they settled 
along the banks of the Rhine, one of the two great rivers which 
served the Roman Empire as a barrier against the barbarians. 

The Salic Franks and Ripuarian Franks occupied nearly the same 
respective positions in the fifth century. At this period the Empire 
was divided between the sons of the great Theodosius, Honorius 
reigning at Rome, and Arcadius at Constantinople. Gaul formed part of 
Honorius's share, and under this weak prince the "Western Empire 
gave way on all sides. A multitude of causes had hastened its disso- 
lution, and anarchy was rampant in the State. The barbarians ad- 
vanced to plunder that which they were badly paid to defend. In 
vain Rome humiliated herself so deeply as to become their tributary, 
endeavouring to stop by presents these fierce men, against whom she 
could no longer effect anything by her arms, or the majesty of her 
name : the work of destruction commenced, and in spite of a few 
fortunate days for the Roman arms, the invading flood never halted 
till it had swallowed up the Empire, and even Rome herself. 

The Suevi and Yandals f burst into Gaul in 406, and from that 
date up to 4*76, the epoch when a barbarian chief deposed the last 
emperor, Italy and Gaul were one vast scene of carnage and desola- 
tion, in which twenty nations of different origin came into furious 

The Suevi and Yandals were followed by the Yisigoths, who, after 
ravaging one half of the two Empires, and sacking Rome, tore 
from the Emperor Honorius, who was invested in Ravenna, the con- 
cession of the southern territory of Gaul, situated to the west of the 
Rhone. The Western Empire was dismembered on all sides. The 
island of Britain had already liberated itself from the yoke of 
the Romans, and the Armorican provinces of Western Gaul rose 

* Ripuarios a ripa Rheni sic vocatos, et primum a Romanis ad defensionem limitis 
ad versus Gernianis constitutes fuisse, nullus dubitat.— Prcef. Eccardi ad Legem Rip. 

+ This most barbarous of the barbarous nations was of Slavonic origin. Their hordes 
■wandered about Germany for a while, and eventually joined the Suevi in invading the 
Empire. After crossing Graul, the Vandals established themselves in Spain, and in the 
fifth century passed over to Africa, where Belisarius exterminated them. 


in insurrection. About the same period, the Burgundians, a people 
of Vandal origin, crossed the Rhine, and in 413, founded, on 
Gallic territory, a first Burgundian kingdom, between Mayence and 
Strasburg.* The chroniclers of the eighth century, copied by all sub- 
sequent writers, have selected this epoch (418) for a new invasion of 
the Salic Franks, under a chief whom they have named Pharamond, 
and whose existence is most uncertain. Contemporary writers did not 
allude to him ; and we have seen the Franks established in the north of 
Gaul in the third century, where they remained almost stationary up to 
the fall of the Empire. f 

Valentinian III. succeeded Honorius in 424, and reigned in sloth 
and indolence at Bavenna, to which city the seat of the Western 
Empire had been transferred. .^Etius, who had been brought up as a 
hostage in the camp of the Visigoth conqueror, Alaric, commanded the 
Roman armies. This skilful general, the last whom Borne possessed, had 
fought with success, and had subjugated several barbarous tribes esta- 
blished in Gaul, the Franks, Visigoths, and Burgundians. But at this 
moment other barbarians poured over that country. The Huns, a Scy- 
thian people, the most cruel and savage of all, left the shores of the 
Euxine and followed Attila. Their multitude was innumerable. Guided 
by the instinct of destruction, they said of themselves that they were 
going whither the wrath of God called them. They entered Gaul, 
and fired and devastated everything before them as far as Orleans. They 
threatened Paris, and the Parisians attributed the salvation of their 
city to the prayers of Sainte Genevieve. Still, the Romans and 
Visigoths, allied under the command of ^Etius and Theodoric,J com- 
pelled the Huns to retreat: Alaric fell back into Champagne, and 

* Questions Bourguignonnes, by Roget de Belloquet. This work, -which the Academy 
of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres has crowned, offers opinions as profound as they are 
ingenious, about the origin and existence of the Burgundians in Germany and Gaul. 
The author has added a map of the first kingdom of Burgundy. 

+ Concerning the true or supposed existence of Pharamond, and the authenticity of 
the passage in the Chronicle of Prosperus, the sole record of the fifth century, in which 
Pharamond is mentioned, consult the learned and judicious dissertation of M. de 
Persigny, in his Etudes sur VEpoque Merovingienne. 

% This Theodoric, king of the Visigoths, and successor of Tallin, must not be confounded 
with the great Tkeodoiic, king of the Ostrogoths, who, a few years later, was destined to 
conquer Italy. 


there, near Chalons- sur-Marne, on the Oatalaunian plains, a fright- 
ful battle took place in the year 451, which was won by .iEtius, 
and followed by a most awful carnage, in which it is said that 300,000 
men perished. Merovseus, chief of the Franks, joined the Romans and 
Visigoths on this sanguinary day, and contributed greatly to their 
victory by his exploits. 

Gaul remained the scene of bloodthirsty struggles between the dif- 
ferent tribes that occupied the country, and each moment of repose 
was followed by a new and frightful crisis. Majorienus, proclaimed 
emperor in 457, had chosen, as his lieutenant in Graul and master 
of the militia, Syagrius JEgidius, who belonged to one of the great 
families of the country, and was distinguished by the most 
eminent qualities.. The exalted dignity of master of the militia 
was the object of the ardent ambition of the barbarian chiefs, esta- 
blished in the Empire by the title of colonists, letes, or confederates ; 
and the latter respected the person invested with it as the delegate 
of the Emperor, whose supremacy they recognized. An example of 
this was seen in the time of -ZEgidius, in a fact worthy of attention, and 
which has, for a long time, been misunderstood. Merovaeus, king 
of the Salic Franks, having died in 458, was succeeded by 
his son Childeric, who was proclaimed king in spite of his extreme 
youth, and soon afterwards dethroned and expelled by the people who 
had raised him on the shield. The Franks, no longer possessing a 
prince of the royal race, voluntarily subjected themselves to the Grallo- 
Roman, ^Egidius, master of the militia, and recognized him as their 
chief. ^Egidius, having been declared an enemy of the Empire by 
the Roman Senate, the Franks recalled Childeric, placed him again at 
their head, and helped in the overthrow of ^Egidius. Childeric, at a 
later date, was himself invested with the dignity of master of the 
militia, and fought with glory for the Empire, against the barbarians 
who were rending it asunder. 

The Empire subsisted for a few years longer, a prey to frightful con- 
vulsions. On one side were effeminate princes, indifferent to the 
public calamities, succeeding each other on the throne ; chiefs who rose 
rapidly, and fell as rapidly, by assassination or revolt ; an army, com- 
posed of a multitude of men of all nations, who recognized no country, 


whom cupidity alone attached to tlie Empire, and who ravaged it, 
when more was to be gained by pillage than by mercenary service • and 
an ignorant and wretched people, who knew not what laws to obey, 
who were exhausted by the Emperors, plundered by the armies and 
barbarian hordes, and who would have long ceased to be Romans, had 
they known to whom they could submit with security. On the other 
side, were new and ferocious nations, whose independent and haughty 
temper contrasted with the effeminate character of the Romans ; 
tribes which, though differing in manners, language, and worship, as 
well as origin, seemed to have come to an understanding to hurry 
from the confines of the world, and rush together on the Empire as 
their prey. 

Between this worn-out society and these new races, the Christian 
Church rose, acquired strength, and won over a multitude of men, to 
whom the world only offered suffering, and who eagerly embraced 
the hope of a happier existence in a better world. The Church received 
them all into its bosom,, without respect of rank or fortune, giving its 
dignities to the most learned and the most able. The Church alone 
was, in the West, the . depository of some learning ; and laboured to 
produce a new civilization out of the chaos into which Europe threat- 
ened to fall. Alone it stood erect and constituted, while everything 
was crumbling away around it ; and when the Roman magistracy 
disappeared in Gaul, the title of "defender of the city" passed to 
the bishops, and the ecclesiastical dioceses were everywhere sub- 
stituted for the imperial dioceses. : 

The Empire terminated its painful agony between the years 475 
and 480. The last prince elected by the Senate of Rome and the 
Emperor of Constantinople, and who, by this double title, had been 
legally recognized as Emperor of the West, was ISTepos, proclaimed Au- 
gustus at Rome in 474. An officer of barbarian origin, Orestes, formerly 
secretary to Attila, placed by Nepos at the head of the imperial troops, 
(Jrove him from the throne, compelled him to fly, and raised in 
his stead a son of his own by his marriage with a Roman lady of 
illustrious race. This son, named Romulus, was recognized as 
Emperor by the. Senate of Rome ; but his election was not confirmed 
by the Court of Constantinople.: he only received the shadow of 


power, and was called in contempt by the sobriquet of Augustulus. 
He was overthrown a year after bis election by another barbarian 
officer of the name of Odoacer. 

Gaul, upon the fall of the Empire, was divided between the Visi- 
goths under Euric, in the south ; the^peoples of Armorica, in the west ; 
the Germans and Burgundians, in the east ; and the Franks, in the 
north. The latter, still divided into two nations, the Salic and the 
Ripuarian, occupied nearly the same territory they had conquered, 
and the possession of which had been confirmed to them in the two 
previous centuries. The Ripuarian Franks, who occupied the two 
banks of the Rhine, extended on the French side of that river as far 
as the Scheldt. The Salic Franks occupied, between the Scheldt, the 
German Ocean, and the Somme, a" territory which they had conquered 
under their King, Clodion, toward the middle of the fifth century. 
They were divided into three tribes or small kingdoms, the principal 
cities of which were Tournay (Turnacum), Cambray (Cameracum), 
and Therouanne (Theruenna). The chiefs or kings of these tribes all 
belonged to the royal race of Clodion, and his son Merovasus. The 
tribe of Tournay had acquired the first rank and predominant 
influence under King Childeric. 

A portion of Gaul, between the Somme and the Loire, had re- 
mained Roman, and maintained itself, for some time after the fall of 
the Empire, independent of the barbarians. This rather extensive 
country was governed at that time by the Roman general Syagrius, 
son of the celebrated -<3Sgidius, the ex-master of the imperial 

The Anglo-Saxons, at this period, having invaded Great Britain, 
and established themselves in that island, a great number of the 
old inhabitants emigrated and settled at the extremity of the 
western point of Armorica, where they were kindly welcomed by 
the natives, who had a community of language and origin with them. 
French Brittany derived its name from these expatriated Britons. 
About the same period, a colony of Saxons, expelled from Ger- 
many, established themselves in Lower Normandy, in the vicinity of 
Bayeux ; while another colony of the same people, hostile to the 
Britons, occupied a part of Main 3 and Anjou. 


Such was the state of Granl when, in 481, Clotwig, better known 
by the name of Cloyis,* son of Childeric, and grandson of Merovig 
or Merovaeus, who gave his name to his dynasty, was elected king or 
chief of the Salic Franks established at Tonrnay. 

* Among most of the barbarian nations the proper names of men and women nearly 
always indicate some distinctive quality. Merowig or Merwig, is formed of the two 
words mer, great, and wig, a warrior. Clohvig is derived from clot, celebrated, and 
ioig, warrior ; Clothild or Lothild, from lot, celebrated, and Mid, a boy or girl. The 
barbarian names are generally harsh or difficult of pronunciation, and they have been 
transformed by use into softer names. Thus, for instance, of Merowig, the French have 
made Merc vie ; of Clotwig or Chlodowig, Clovis ; of Brunehild, Brunehaut ; of Theo- 
dorik, Thierry ; of Gundbald, Grondebaud ; of Karle, Charles ; of Leodgher, Leger ; of 
Rodulf, Raoul ; of Atlrick, Alaric, &c. 




481-986 (five centuries). 






The success of the Franks in that part of Gaul which had remained 
subject to the Romans, was partly due to the state of oppression 1 
into which the Imperial Government had plunged the people, who, 
crushed by taxation, impatient to break the yoke, and forced to 
sustain continual struggles, were yet deficient in resolution and vigour 
to defend themselves. Other causes favoured their rapid progress 
in the countries occupied by the Visigoths and Burgundians. These 
hordes, whose invasion of Gaul had been violent and accompanied by 
great ravages, had been rapidly softened by the influence of a superior 
civilization: the Goths, more especially, assumed Roman manners, 
which were those of the civilized inhabitants of Gaul, and sought 
to acquire the politeness, arts, and laws of the conquered, whose 
religion, however, they did not adopt. They were attached to the 
Arian heresy, while the nations they had conquered were maintained 
in the orthodox, or Catholic, faith by their bishops.- The latter, 
children of Rome and inheritors of the administrative power of the 
Roman magistrates, bound to recognize as their pattern and head the 
bishop of the Eternal City, to regulate their faith by his, and to con- 
tribute by the unity of religion to the unity of the Empire, still 
laboured, at the period of the conquest, to retain under the authority 


of Rome, by the bond of religious faith, countries in which the bond 
of political obedience was severed. 

The Yisigoths and Burgundians did not recognize the authority of 
the bishops, who had greater hopes of a nation still pagan and free 
from prejudices, as the Franks were at that time, than of tribes 
who, already converted to Christianity, refused to acknowledge their 
creed or take them as guides. The Goths and Burgundians, besides, 
at the moment when they were attacked by the Franks, had lost 
some of their primitive energy, and had made no progress in the 
military science of the conquered races ; but the Franks, on the 
contrary, had retained all the savage vigour of the inhabitants of 
Germany, and nothing had softened their natural ferocity, or their 
spirit of independence. When they were conquered, fresh migrations 
of Germanic tribes incessantly arrived to repair their losses ; when 
they were conquerors, they had all the superiority which is produced 
by the boldness of success and the thirst of pillage, peculiar to warlike 
tribes that have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Clovis, elected chief of the Franks, soon seconded the wish of 
the bishops of Gaul by espousing Glotilda, daughter of Childeric, 
king of the Burgundians, the only woman of the Germanic race who 
at that period belonged to the Catholic communion. 

The first enemy he attacked was Syagrius, the Boman general 
and governor of that part of Gaul still independent of the barbarians, 
whose capital was Soissons : Syagrius was vanquished, and the 
Franks extended their limits up to the Seine. Clovis next marched 
against the hordes of Allemanni, who were invading Gaul to wrest 
their conquests from the Franks, and fought an aetion at Tolbiac. 
Defeated in . the early part of the day, he promised to adore the 
God of Clotilda if he gained the victory: he triumphed, and kept 
his vow. He was baptized by St. Bemi, bishop of the city of that 
name. "Sicambrian, bow thy head!" the prelate said to him; " burn 
what thou hast adored, and adore what thou hast burned." Three 
thousand Frank warriors imitated their chief, and were baptized 
on the same day: it was thus that the Boman Church gained access 
to the barbarians. Clovis at once sent presents to Borne, as a symbol 
of tribute, to the successor of the blessed Apostle Peter, and. from 
this moment his conquests extended over Gaul without bloodshed. 

481-511] THU EEIGN VF 3L0VIS. 39 

All the cities in the north-west as far as the Loire, find the territory 
of the Breton emigres, opened their gates to his soldiers. The bishops 
of the country of the Burgundians soon sent a deputation to the 
conqueror, supplicating him to deliver them from the rule of the 
Arian barbarians ; and Clovis, on their solicitation, declared war 
against the Burgundian King Gondebaud, the murderer of Clotilda's 
father, and made him his tributary. Gondebaud, when conquered, 
promised to become a convert to Catholicism ; and most of the towns 
on the banks of the Rhine and the Saone were united under the 
authority of the Church of Rome. 

Six years later, Clovis meditated fresh conquests, and turned 
his attention to the fair southern provinces occupied by the Visigoths* 
He assembled his warriors on the Field of Mars, and said -to them, 
" I am grieved at the thought that these Arians possess a part of 
Gaul : let us go, with God's help, and, after conquering them, possess 
their territory."* War was at once decided on. Clovis obtained 
for this expedition the consent of the Eastern -Emperor Athanasius, 
and was supported by the Burgundian King Gondebaud. He nego- 
tiated with the Catholic bishops of the provinces occupied by the Visi- 
goths, kept his troops under strict discipline, and offered himself to 
the Catholic population of the country as a liberator and avenger. 
Then, marching southward, he terrified Alaric II. by the rapidity 
of his progress. This prince called to his aid his father-in-law, 
the great Theodoric, King of the Yisigoths, who at that time was 
governing Italy with glory ;f and not daring, before the junction 
of their armies, to engage in a decisive action with the Franks, 
retreated before them. Clovis, however, -hurrying on, came up with 
Alaric's army near Youille, three leagues to the south of Poitiers, and 

* Gregory of Tours {Historic*, Francorum, I. 2). This work, which contains the 
annals of Gaul from the year 417 to 591, is one of the most interesting memorials of 
the national history. It is written in Latin, like all the ecclesiastic MSS. of that period. 

+ Theodoric had entered into an engagement with the Emperor Zeno to penetrate into 
Italy, wrest that country from Odoacer, and govern it in the name of the Emperor of 
the East. He therefore set out with his people, and, in 489, met the army of Odoacer 
on the banks of the Isonzo. He conquered it, and invaded Lombardy, where Odoacer, 
after a few successes, followed by numerous reverses, perished by assassination. Theo- 
doric from that time governed Italy wisely, and tried to re-establish there Roman law 
and civilization. 

40 THE REIGN OF CLOYIS. [Book I. Chap. L 

attacked it. Alaric lost his life in the engagement ; the Franks were 
victorious ; and, before long, the greater portion of the country occupied 
by the Visigoths, as far as the sources of the Garonne, obeyed Clovis* 
Carcassonne checked his victorious army. A portion of his forces, 
under the command of his elder son, Thierry, marched into Arvernia 
(Auvergne), in concert with the army of the King of the Burgundians ; 
and the combined armies subjugated the whole country as far as Aries, 
the capital of the Yisigothic Empire, to which they laid siege. In 
the meanwhile, the Ostrogoths of the great Theodoric were approach- 
ing, and the Franks and Burgundians, retiring before them, raised the 
siege of Aries and Carcassonne. Peace was finally concluded, after a 
battle gained by the Ostrogoths. - A treaty insured the possession of 
Aquitaine and ISTovempopulania (Gascony) to Clovis ; Theodoric, 
as the price of his services, claimed the province of Aries up to the 
Durance; the Burgundians kept the cities to the north of that 
city, with the exception of Avignon ; and the monarchy of the 
Visigoths was reduced to Spain and Septimania, of which Narbonne 
was the capital, having, as its nominal head, a child of the name of 
Amalaric, son of that Alaric II. who was killed at Vouille, and 
grandson and ward of Theodoric. The latter remained, in reality, 
and up to his death, the absolute sovereign of the two great divisions 
of the Gothic Empire on either side of the Alps. 

The Franks, thus checked in the south by the Ostrogoths, marched 
westward, and arrived at the country of the Armoricans, whose great 
towns submitted, and consented to pay tribute : the Breton emigres 
alone defended the nook of land in which they had taken refuge, and 
managed to retain their independence. 

The campaign in Aquitaine added greatly to the military renown and 
power of Clovis, who received, at this period, the consular insignia from 
the Emperor Athanasius, then reigning at Constantinople, and who 
had approved his expedition against the Goths. Clovis proceeded to 
Tours in the year 510, in order to inaugurate his consulate in the 
most venerated sanctuary of Catholic Gaul, in the presence of the 
tomb of St. Martin. He made his solemn entry into the city on 
horseback, with a diadem on his head, attired in the chlamys, and 
scattering gold pieces among the mob : he proceeded in this way from 

481-511] THE REIGN OF CLOYIS. 41 

the basilica of St.. Martin to the cathedral, to thank Heaven for his 
victories ; and from this day he was called Consnl and Augustus. 

Clovis, upon this occasion, made considerable donations to the 
churches of his states, both in money, derived from the immense 
possessions of the treasury, and lands taken from the imperial 
domains, which the barbarian kings seized in all the conquered pro- 
vinces. The basilica of St. Martin obtained the greater share of his 
liberality, and he even gave to it his war- charger. 

On his return from his warlike expedition into Aquitaine, Clovis 
fixed his residence at Paris, in the ancient Palace of the Thermae, 
formerly occupied by the Caesars. His attention was then turned to 
the north of Gaul, which was occupied by tribes of his own race, and 
divided between the puissant kingdom of the Ripeware or Ripuarian 
Franks, which extended along the two banks of the Rhine, and the 
kingdom of the Salic, or Salian Franks, who were enclosed between the 
Scheldt, the Somme, and the sea. Clovis held beneath his authority 
two-thirds of Gaul; but was still unrecognized by the tribes of his 
own nation, with the exception of the Salic tribe of Tournay, at the 
head of which he had gained all his victories. Tournay, where he had 
alone succeeded in propagating Christianity, had become an episcopal 
see. The Salic Franks of the two other kingdoms, Cambray and 
Therouanne, and the Ripuarian Franks, had remained attached to 

Clovis resolved to subjugate them all. Religion had neither repressed 
his ambition, nor softened his ferocity ; and he employed cunning and 
violence to attain success. He had had as his companion in his last 
exploits, Chloderic, son of his ally, Sigebert, King of the Ripuarians ; 
and he inflamed the ambition of the young prince by language as flat- 
tering as it was perfidious. Chloderic, urged to parricide, went to join his 
father, who was hunting at the time on the right bank of the Rhine, 
and, surprising him in the wilds of Germany, assassinated him there ; 
after which he hastened to Cologne, seized the treasury, and had him- 
self proclaimed king. Clovis, constituting himself avenger > of the 
murder he had provoked, procured the assassination of Chloderic ; and 
then, setting out with his army, seized Verdun, and penetrated into 
Cologne. Taking advantage of the stupor into which the loss of their 

42 THE KEIGN OF CLOVIS'. [Book I. Chap/I. 

chiefs, and his sudden march, had plunged the Ripuarians, he affected 
to be horrified by the crime, and solemnly declared that he was inno- 
cent of the blood of Sigebert and Chloderic, whose deaths, he said, 
would expose the Ripuarians to great evils, unless they accepted his 
protection, and placed themselves under his laws. His words, backed 
by the presence of a victorious army, were listened to ; and the 
Ripuarians raised Clovis on the buckler, and proclaimed him their 
king. He then marched against the Salic tribes of Courtray and 
Therouanne, whose chiefs, Cararic and Raghenaher, had maintained 
their independence, and subjugated them, rather by the aid of treachery 
than by the force of arms. Cararic and his son were surrendered to 
him without a blow ; Raghenaher, deserted on the battle-field, was 
thrown into fetters by his own soldiers, and his brother Ricaire shared 
his fate. Both chiefs were brought before the ferocious conqueror. 
" Unhappy man ! " said Clovis to Raghenaher, " dost thou thus dis- 
honour our blood ? a Salian allow himself to be chained ! was it not 
better to die ? " And, so saying, with one blow of his axe he cut off 
his head. Then, turning to Ricaire, Clovis said, " Why didst thou not 
defend thy brother better ? he would not have endured this shame ;" 
and, raising his blood-stained axe, laid him also dead at his feet. At 
the first, he did not prove so terrible in his treatment of Cararic and 
his son. They promised to enter the Church, and he contented him- 
self with cutting off their hair as a sign of degradation. Cararic, 
however, unfortunately uttered the imprudent words, " Of what use is 
it to cut off the foliage of a green tree ? it will grow again." These 
words, revealing a threat, the significance of which Clovis was not 
slow to comprehend, were a decree of death to father and son : both 
of them were massacred, as well as another son of Cararic, named 
Rignomer, who had taken refuge in the city of Mans. 

After all these murders, the barbarous king exclaimed, " "Wretched 
man that I am ! I have no relations left ; all have revolted against me, 
and all have perished. Is there not any member of my family still in 
•existence to console me in my old days ? " This lamentation, the chro- 
niclers say, was only an artifice employed by Clovis in order to assure 
himself that no scion of his race was left whom he might fear and put 
out of the way. But this pitiless desire was already fulfilled, and of 

•481-511] 'THE EEIGN OF CLOTIS. 4B 

all the descendants of Clodion and Merovig, Clovis henceforth remained 
alone with his children. 

If the chroniclers have told the truth in attributing Clovis' lamenta- 
tions to interested calculation, which they do not condemn, we may be 
also permitted to believe that remorse had something to do with them. 
The Church, doubtless, was most indulgent to Clovis, for it was greatly 
indebted to him ; and a portion of the clergy applauded the extermination 
of princes of the royal blood who were still attached to Paganism.* 
Still, such sanguinary deeds struck the people with horror, and the 
public cry found an echo in the consciences of a few holy priests, 
and in that of the culprit. Shortly after the murder of Raghenaher 
and Cararic, Clovis went to Tournay, where the Bishop St. Eleutherus 
resided, and proceeded to the church to pray. The bishop, who awaited 
him on the threshold, said, " King, I know why thou comest to 
me !" and when Clovis protested that he had nothing to say to the 
bishop, St. Eleutherus replied, " Speak not so : thou hast sinned and 
darest not confess it ! " At these words the monarch, deeply affected, 
confessed that he felt himself guilty, shed tears, and begged the pious 
prelate to implore from Heaven the pardon of his crimes. 

Everything in the history of Clovis shows that his religious actions 
were inspired as much by the ardour of a sincere faith as by policy ; 
and that he carried out his mission as chief and representative of the 
Catholic party in Gaul, because he was himself attached to the 
Church of Rome. He constantly mixed up religious undertakings 
with his warlike expeditions. In the later part of his life he went 
to Orleans, where he had convened a general council of the bishops 
of the provinces over which his authority extended. Those of the 
provinces recently conquered from the Visigoths were present, and 
one of them, the Bishop of Bordeaux, presided over the council, 
which cemented an intimate union by mutual concessions between 
the Catholic clergy and the King of France. Clovis confirmed the 
gift of immense domains to the Church, which he established on the 
solid basis of freehold property ; he respected the right of asylum in 
holy places ; he recognized the privilege of the clergy to be only 

* Prosternebat enim quotidie Deus hostes ejus sub xnanu ipsius et augebat regnum 
«jus, eo quod ambulabat recto corde coram eo et faciebat quae placita erant in oculis 
«jus. — [Greg. Tur. Hist., Lib. II.) 

44 THE REIGN" OP CLOVIS. [Book I. Chap. I. 

tried by their ecclesiastical superiors, and liberated their property 
from any seizure by the fiscal authorities. In return for such great 
concessions, the council decided that no freeman should receive holy 
orders without the King's permission, and no serf without his 
master's knowledge. The King limited the right of asylum, pro- 
hibited the bishops from excommunicating persons who might plead 
against them, and, lastly, the assembly submitted all its decisions 
to the monarch's approval. "We have answered," the bishops said, 
" the questions on which you have consulted us, and the articles pre- 
sented to us by you, in order that, if your judgment approve of what 
we have decided, the decrees passed by so venerable an assembly may 
be strengthened for the future by the assent of so great a king." * The 
council completed its labours by drawing up canons which regulated 
the administration and division of the property and revenues of the 
Church, and settled the share of the inferior clergy, schools, the poor, 
and the infirm. 

After the closing of the Council of Orleans, Clovis, on returning to 
Paris, busied himself with the propagation of Christianity among the 
Frank tribes which he had recently subjected in Northern Gaul ; and it 
is supposed that the same period should be assigned to the Latin 
edition which he issued of the Salic law, or, more correctly, of the 
customs of the Salian Franks, while modifying them so as to render 
them more in harmony with the new situation which he had made for 
his people in Gaul. 

The work of Clovis was now accomplished, and in the course of 
the same year (511) he died at Paris, after bestowing fresh largesses on 
the clergy, and dividing his states between his four sons, Thierry, 
Clodomir, Childebert, and Clothair, who were all recognized as kings. 

In order to form a just estimate of the character of this king we 
must carry back our thoughts to the age in which he lived. We are 
bound to remember that there were two men in Clovis — the barbarian 
chief and the Christian neophyte ; and if, on one hand, we are sur- 
prised to find in some of his actions so many vestiges of barbarity, 
we are, on the other, astonished at what he did to elevate his people 
and himself to a higher stage of belief and civilization. An imposing 
and terrible grandeur marked his exploits as well as his misdeeds, 
* Concil. Auril., Epist. ad Chlodoveum regem. 

481-511] THE EEIGN OF CEOVIS. 45 

He joined to the lively intellect that conceives, the strong and active 
will that executes ; and God, who allowed him to combine the talents 
of the warrior with those of the politician, set upon him, at an early- 
age, the seal of the conqueror. He was the instrument employed by 
Providence to lead the powerful nation of the Franks to Christianity, 
and to effect the fusion of the barbarous nations with the civilized 
peoples of the Roman world, — a fusion which could alone be effected 
by means of religion, and which was not complete until the con- 
quering people had adopted the faith of the conquered. The popula- 
tion of Gaul being subjected to the Church of Rome, Clovis, the 
disciple of the same Church, was, on that account, better able to 
subjugate it than were the Arian kings of the Burgundians and Visi- 
goths, who had separated from the Church. He understood his 
situation and the part he was called on to play. It was, above all, as 
chief of the religious party and defender of the national faith that he 
offered himself to the native tribes and Catholic clergy of Graul : he 
restored the shaken authority of the Church from the shores of the 
German Ocean to the Pyrenees, and from the shores of the Atlantic 
to the forests of Germany. Rome, grateful to Clovis, decreed him 
the glorious title of " Elder Son of the Church," and he transmitted 
it to all his successors. 

46 CUSTOMS OF. THE FRANKS. [Book I. Chap. M 






Before continuing the history, of the Franks under the race of 
Clovis, it will be advisable to take a glance at their religion, laws, and 
customs, and to explain the relations of the conquerors to the 

Royalty among the Franks was at once elective and hereditary: 
the title of king, in the German language,* merely signified chief, and 
was decreed by election. On the death of a king, the Franks assem- 
bled for the purpose of choosing his successor : and we have seen 
that they chose him from one family, that of Merovig, and that, when 
they had nominated him, they consecrated him by raising him on a 
buckler, amid noisy shouts. The chief mission of the ruler they gave 
themselves was to lead them against the foe, and to pillage : he re- 
ceived the largest share of the booty, frequently consisting of towns 
with their territory, which constituted the royal domain, and the 
treasure with which the king recompensed his antrustions or leudes, 
the name given to the comrades in arms of the prince, who devoted 
themselves to his fortunes and swore fidelity to him. These leudes 
formed a separate class, from which the majority of the officers and 
magistrates was selected. The following anecdote will instruct us as 
to what were the limits and extent of the royal power. After the 
battle of Soissons, Clovis wished to withdraw from the division of 
the booty a precious vase, claimed by St. Remi. All his warriors 
consented, except one, who, breaking the vessel with a blow of his 

* Konig, a king, derived from the verb konnen, to be able, or powerful. This word 
still exists among the Scotch, in the modified form of " canny," while we have perverted 
it into " cunning." — L. W. 

51^-638] CUSTOMS OF THE FRANKS. 4£. 

axe, said, brutally, to the King*, "Thou shalt only have, like the rest,, 
what chance gives thee!" Clovis concealed his passion; but the 
following year, while reviewing his troops, he stopped before this 
soldier, and tore from him his weapon, which, he said, was in a bad 
condition. " Remember the vase of Soissons !" said the King, and 
cleft his skull with a blow of the battle-axe. 

When a king died, his sons inherited his domain; and being richer 
than their companions in arms, were in a better position than other 
persons to secure suffrages. It was thus that the supreme authority 
was handed down from father to son in the race of Clovis, at first 
by election, and then by usage, which in time became law. 

The sons of Clovis, having all been recognized as kings, each took 
up his abode in the chief city of his dominions, so that there were 
from this time four capitals, Paris, Orleans, Soissons, and Reims.* All . 
these capitals, residences of kings, were chosen to the north of the 
Loire, in a rather limited space, because the countries in which they 
were situated were alone considered the land of the Franks. The 
provinces to the south of the Loire were still filled with reminiscences 
of the Romans. The great cities, far richer and more populous than 
those of the north, and brilliant with the relics of imperial grandeur, 
struck the barbarous Franks with a stupid astonishment. They found 
themselves uncomfortable amid the ruins of the civilized world, and 
hence they only sojourned there with repugnance. They left their 
administration to the municipal bodies and the bishops, and contented 
themselves with occupying the country by bodies of troops, which kept 
it in obedience by the terror which they everywhere inspired. The 
Church was, at that time, the sole power that contended against 
barbarism, and the only curb on the ferocious passions of the con- 
querors ; who, prior to Clovis, had no other faith but that of the 
Scandinavian Odin, and had only learned to expect in another life the 
thoroughly sensual joys of the Walhalla, a palace which they believed 
to exist in the clouds, and where, blending festivity with combats, 
they promised themselves, as the supreme felicity after death, to quaff, 
beer or hydromel out of the skulls of their enemies. When, following . 
the example of Clovis, they were converted in a mass to Christianity, ; 
without being instructed in it, the majority of them remained igno-.- 
* Metz was soon after selected as the capital in the place of the last-named city. 

48 . CUSTOMS OP THE FEANKS. [Book I. CiiAP. II.,: 

rant of that which, was sublime and spiritual in the religion they 
had embraced. Coarse and rude, they required an external faith, 
which terrified them by carnal menaces, and captivated them by the 
majesty of its spectacles ; and therefore we can easily conceive that 
Catholicism triumphed over the rival creeds. In fact, the images of 
saints, the relics of martyrs, the renown of the miracles which were 
said to be effected by them, and the pomp of the ceremonies, struck 
the imagination of the barbarians with astonishment and respect. 
The civil power of the bishops ; the external and visible hierarchy of 
the clergy, whose head was at Rome, in the Eternal City ; and, above 
all, the great name of Rome, respected even by her conquerors, 
gave the Catholic clergy a power over this untameable population, far 
greater than, the priests of any " other Christian Church could have 
obtained. The clergy, besides, were distinguished at this time by 
great virtues, and made energetic efforts to combat the unbridled 
passions of the people and the kings. The barbarism was, however, 
still so great that men treated God as they would have liked them- 
selves to be treated, hoping to disarm His justice and turn away His 
wrath by giving Him gold, jewels, horses, and estates, with which 
they enriched the Church, and enabled the clergy to maintain their 
necessary ascendancy over the converted conquerors. 

At the moment when the Franks invaded Gaul, there were numerous 
monasteries in that country, the most ancient of which was Mar- 
moutiers, near Tours, founded by St. Martin, who introduced cenobitic 
life into Gaul. The following ages witnessed the foundation of a 
great number of other pious establishments, among the most useful of 
which we may distinguish those of the illustrious order of the Bene- 
dictines, founded in Italy in the sixth century by St. Benedict, and 
which soon spread its numerous ramifications over the whole of Europe. 
The adepts of this order were subjected to the three vows of chastity, 
poverty, and obedience ; and St. Benedict had also prescribed for 
them prayer, study, manual labour, and the instruction of youth. ISTo 
religious order contributed more than this one to the progress of letters 
and the sciences. It was necessary, amid the perpetual scenes of fighting, 
pillage, and crime, that the unhappy should find somewhere an asylum 
against violence ; and when the soil was bristling with armed men, 
whose only thought was to destroy each other, it was important that 


large associations, animated by a pious and intelligent zeal, should 
devote themselves to the fatiguing task of draining marshes, clearing 
land, collecting the information contained in the scattered manu- 
scripts which had escaped so many devastations, and in opening 
schools, and handing down to posterity the knowledge of contem- 
porary facts. Such was the laudable occupation of the first in- 
habitants of monasteries, and it was thus that they deserved the 
respect and gratitude of the nations. 

The authority of the kings was purely military, and the legislative 
power belonged to the entire nation of the Franks, who assembled 
under arms in the month of March or May, whence these malls, or 
national comitia, have been entitled " the assemblies of the field of 
March" and "the field of May." They took place regularly every year 
in the early period of the conquest ; but when the Franks, after becom- 
ing landowners, were rapidly scattered over the soil of Gaul, they 
neglected to assemble, the kings ceased to convoke them regularly, 
and the legislative power passed into the hands of the monarchs, their 
officers, and the bishops. Each city was administered by its own 
municipality, under the direction of the bishop, who was elected by 
the people and the clergy of his diocese. 

Justice emanated from the people. All the freemen in each district, 
designated by the name of armans or rachimbourgs, had the right of 
being present at the courts, where they performed the duties of 
judges, under the presidency of the royal officers, men, counts, or cen- 
turions. No subordination existed between the several courts, and no 
appeal was admitted. Each of the tribes that occupied the soil of 
Gaul retained its own laws. The Gallo- Romans continued to be 
governed, in their civil relations, by the Theodosian code ; * the Salian 
and Ripuarian Franks and the Burgundians each had a special code. 

The law which the Salic Franks obeyed, and which obtained from 
them the name of the Salic law, was not drawn up till after- 
the conquest ; but it was based on maxims long anterior to the 
invasion of Gaul by the Franks. This law, moreover, ' established 
offensive distinctions between the races of the Franks and Gallo- 
Romans. The reparation for the heaviest crimes was estimated in 

* This was the name given to the collection of Roman laws dra,vn up by order of the 
Emperor Theodoric II., and promulgated in 433. This was the first official code. 



money ; and, by consenting to pay a certain snm, any man could with 
impunity commit robbery, murder, or arson. In this species of com- 
position the law always valued the life of a Frank at double that of a 
Roman. Churchmen, however, were respected, and enjoyed several 
privileges. Under the sons of Clovis, the penal laws became more 
severe, and the penalty of death was substituted in certain cases for 
fines. The law of the Ripuarian Franks, promulgated by Thierry I., 
established compensation for offences on principles similar to those of 
the Salic law. The law of the Burgundians, called the lot Gombette, 
after Grondebaud, its first author, was more favourable to the old 
inhabitants than the laws of the Salic and Ripuarian Franks ; 
and, resembling in this point the law of the Visigoths, it established 
no distinction between the Romans and the conquerors, for crimes 
committed on the person. 

All the laws of the barbarians prove that these nations had an 
"unbounded faith in the immediate and constant intervention of the 
Divinity in human interests. Some established as judicial proof the 
oath of the friends and relatives of the accused person or the debtor ; 
others the issue of a duel between the parties ; while others, again, 
prescribed the ordeal of fire and water. The accused was obliged to 
seize a red-hot iron bar, or plunge his hand into boiling water : his 
arm was then carefully wrapped up, and, at the expiration of a certain 
number of days, if the burn left traces the unhappy man was punished 
as guilty ; but, if no traces were left, his innocence was proclaimed. 
They believed that the judgment of Grod Himself was thus obtained, 
just as it was by the duel. 

In Graul, after the conquest, a distinction was made between the 
freemen (possessors of independent estates or owners of benefices) 
the colonists, and the slaves or serfs. The first among the freemen, 
whether Franks or Grallo-Romans, were the leudes, or companions of 
the kings, and possessors of the royal favour ; after the freemen, or 
owners of the soil, came the colonists, who cultivated it in considera- 
tion of rent or tribute ; and, lastly, the serfs, some of whom were 
attached to the person of the master, and others to the soil, with 
which they were sold and handed over like cattle. 

The clergy, as we have seen, formed a separate and very powerful 
class. All the public offices which, to be properly filled, required 


learning and knowledge, were given to the clerks or chnrchmen, owing 
to their superior instruction ; and in this way they found means to 
increase the wealth which they derived from the liberality and piety 
of the faithful. 

The territorial estates were divided, among the barbarians, into two 
chief classes, allodia, and benefices, or fiefs. The allodia were estates 
free from any charge, and belonging entirely either to the conquerors 
or the conquered among the Franks : by virtue of the Salic law, they 
could not be inherited by females. The benefices were lands which 
the kings detached from the royal domain in order to reward their 
leudes. The possession of benefices entailed the obligation of 
military service ; and, being only held for life, they could be recalled. 
The offices of dukes and counts, possessed by the first lords, were not 
transmissible by right of inheritance to their children. But, after a 
time, the bravest warriors, enriched by the royal favour, formed a 
dangerous aristocracy : they became more powerful in proportion as 
the royal authority grew weaker, and, their claims having increased 
with their power, they rendered their domains and titles hereditary in 
their families. This usurpation on the part of the nobles was one of 
the principal causes of the downfall of the Merovingian dynasty. 



Fratricidal wars and frightful crimes marked the reign of the 
descendants of Clovis. The sons of that prince divided his states 
among them with barbarous ignorance, and this clumsy division was 
the source of sanguinary quarrels. 

Thierry resided at Metz, the capital of Eastern France ; Clothair at 
Soissons ; Childebert at Paris ; and Clodomir at Orleans. The last 
three also shared among them the lands and cities conquered in Aqui- 
taine. At this period a great number of German tribes formed an 
alliance with the Franks, whose confederation extended to the Elbe. 
The Frisons, Saxons, and Bavarians were included in this league ; the 
Thuringians, allied with the Varnians and Herules, had spread along 
the banks of the Elbe and the Neckar, where they had formed a 
new monarchy. Sullied with fearful atrocities, they resisted the 

e 2 


Franks, who marched against them under Thierry and Clothair, and 
defeated them in two battles, assassinated the Thuringian princes, 
put a part of the nation to the sword, and attached Thuringia to the 
monarchy of the Franks. 

Sigismund, son of Gondebaud, who assassinated Chilperic, the 
father of Qneen Clotilda, was reigning at this time in Burgundy. 
Forty years had elapsed since the murder, but the widow of Clovis 
swore to take vengeance for it, although the murderer was no 
longer in existence. She resolved to make the son expiate the 
father's crime ; and, collecting her sons together, she made them 
promise to avenge the death of Chilperic, their grandfather. Clodomir 
and Clothair at once entered Burgundy, gained a battle, made King 
Sigismund a prisoner, and threw him down a well with his wife and 
children. Gondemar, brother of the conquered king, became his 
avenger. He defeated Clodomir's army at Yeseronce, on the banks 
of the Rhone, killed Clodomir, expelled the Franks, and was recognized 
as king by the Burgundians, over whom he reigned till the year 532. 
Clothair arid his brother Childebert then attacked him, conquered him, 
and took possession of the kingdom. 

These two princes sullied their character by a frightful crime after 
the death of their brother Clodomir, King of Orleans, who had left three 
children of tender age, who were being brought up by their grandmother 
Clotilda. Clothair and Childebert coveted the inheritance of their 
nephews; and, in order to get them into their power, promised to have 
them crowned. The children went in high glee to join their uncles, 
followed by their servants and tutors ; but all at once, they were sepa- 
rated from them, and the servants were thrown into dungeons. Clo- 
thair and Childebert then sent to Clotilda, their mother, a pair of 
scissors and a dagger — directing her to choose between a monastery 
and death for her grandchildren. " Sooner death !" replied the heart- 
broken woman. The kings, on receiving this answer, proceeded 
straight to their nephews. Clothair murdered two of them with his 
own hands, and their servants were also massacred. The third son 
of Clodomir, of the name of Clodoald, escaped from the fury of his 
uncles, became a monk, and founded the monastery of St. Clodoald 
(Saint Cloud). 

Thierry I., the eldest of the sons of Clovis, died in 534, after 


ravaging Auvergne, which had tried to shake off his yoke. His son, 
Theodebert, succeeded him. 

The empire of the Goths was at this period beginning to decline. 
The great Theodoric was no longer alive. This prince had governed 
Italy, Spain, and Southern Gaul : he had reconquered from the Franks 
a large portion of the provinces taken from the Visigoths after the 
battle of Vouille, and had striven to re-establish in his states the laws, 
customs, and manners of the Roman Empire ; but he had no son to 
whom to hand down his immense kingdom. He had only two 
daughters, Amalasontha and Theodegotha, and by them two grand- 
sons, Athalaric and Amalaric, between whom he divided his empire. 
Athalaric had the kingdom of the Ostrogoths in Italy, with the pro- 
vinces of G-aul up to the Rhone and the Durance. Amalaric, the son of 
Alaric II., and Theodegotha, reigned over the Visigoths in Spain and 
Gaul, from the base of the Pyrenees as far as the Lot and the Rhone. 
This prince resided at Karbonne, and espoused Clotilda, daughter of 
Clovis. Clotilda was a Catholic among an Arian people. Outraged 
by the populace, she was treated still more cruelly by her husband. 
Her blood flowed : she staunched it with a veil, and a faithful servant 
conveyed to the Frank kings this blood-stained veil as an appeal to 
their vengeance. Inflamed with fury at the sight, Childebert set out, 
and led an army of Franks to the frontier of Septimania,* where he- 
defeated the Visigoths. Amalaric fled in terror to Barcelona, and 
perished there by assassination. Childebert gave up Narbonne to 
pillage, and then returned to Paris, loaded with the spoils of the 
rich province; but as he neglected to secure the possession, it reverted 
to the Visigoths eventually. The Franks, a few years later, crossed 
the Alps, and advanced into Spain, as far as Saragossa. This fortress 
arrested them, and they recrossed the mountains, without obtaining 
any serious or durable result from the expedition. 

The race of Theodoric ceased, at about the same period, to reign in. 
Italy, where his grandson Athalaric died young. The Ostrogoths, after 
his death, and that of his successor, Theodatus, the second husband of 
his mother, Amalasontha, selected as their ruler Vitiges, the most 
skilful of their generals. They were at that time engaged in a war 

* The name of Septimania was beginning to prevail over that of Narbonensis Prima, 
given by the Romans to the country which was afterwards called Languedoc. 


■with. Justinian, the Emperor of the East, who asked the support of 
the Frank king, Theodebert I., son of Thierry I., against the Ostro- 
goths. Theodebert, equally appealed to by the latter to help them 
against Justinian, passed the Alps at the head of a numerous army, 
and received gold from both sides : then, breaking his engagements, 
he made a frightful carnage of. both armies, ravaged Lombardy with, 
fire and sword, burned Genoa and Pavia, and extorted Provence from 
the Ostrogoths ; whose empire, already tottering, finally succumbed 
beneath the attacks of Belisarius and ISTarses, the illustrious generals 
of Justinian. 

Theodebert was meditating an invasion of the Empire of the East, 
when he died in 548, leaving the throne to his son Theodobald, who 
only reigned seven years. On the death of the latter, Clothair, his 
great-uncle, seized his kingdom : his other grand-uncle, Childebert, 
jealous of this usurpation, set up against Olothair his son Ohrammus, 
and at first supported him with his army, but himself soon fell ill at 
Paris and died. Clothair inherited his kingdom, pursued his own 
rebellious son, and had him burned alive, with his wife and daughters. 
He had now succeeded his three elder brothers, and held under his 
sway the whole of Roman Gaul, in which were comprised Savoy, 
Switzerland, the Rhenish provinces, and Belgium. Septimania alone 
remained to the Visigoths : Clothair's authority extended beyond the 
Rhine, over the Duchies of Germany, Thuringia, and Bavaria, and the 
countries of the Saxons and Prisons. He made no use of this colossal 
power, and the only memorial that remained of the two years during 
which he governed the monarchy of Prance alone, was the murder of 
his son. Clothair was taken ill a year after this horrible execution, 
and, amazed at the approach of death, exclaimed, " Who is this King 
of Heaven who thus kills the great kings of the earth ? " 

This princely murderer of his family had among his wives a 
princess of the name of Radegonde, daughter of the last King of 
Thuringia, who, owing to her rare education and holy and noble life, 
presents, on the throne, a remarkable contrast to the barbarous 
manners and almost general ignorance of her age. Having volun- 
tarily left the royal residence for a cloister, she founded near Poitiers 
the celebrated convent of Saint Croix, where she divided her leisure 
between the cultivation of letters and the duties of piety and un- 


bounded charity. She died there in 589, and her tomb may still be 



Clothair I. left four sons — Caribert, Gontran, Chilperic, and Sigebert 
— who divided his states among them. Caribert lived but a short 
while, and left no male child : from his death dates a fresh division 
between the three surviving brothers, which it is important to under- 
stand thoroughly. The vast country situated between the Rhine and 
the Loire was divided in two, as if a diagonal line were drawn from 
north to south, from the mouths of the Scheldt to the environs of 
Langres, near the sources of the Saone : the part situated to the west 
of this line was named Neustria (Neuster : west) — and the other part, 
to the east, was named Austrasia (Ostro : east). Neustria fell, in the 
partition, to Chilperic, and Austrasia to Sigebert. Burgundy formed 
the third great division of Gaul, and fell to the share of Gontran. 
Yast countries, afterwards conquered, were regarded as appendices of 
the Frank Empire, and it was arranged that a separate division should 
be made of them : these were Provence, Aquitaine, and Gascony. The 
first was attached to Eastern France, Austrasia and Burgundy, 
and was divided between Sigebert and Gontran; the second was 
divided into three parts, reputed equal, each of which formed a 
small Aquitaine ; and lastly, Gascony was divided between Chilperic 
and Sigebert, to the exclusion of Gontran. The German provinces, 
governed by dukes nominated by the kings, were scarce taken into 
consideration in this division ; they were allotted, with Austrasia, to 
Sigebert, who, in order to watch, over them better, transferred his 
residence from Reims to Metz, which he made his capital. The three 
brothers made a strange convention with regard to the city of Paris : 
owing to its importance, they promised that neither should enter it 
without the consent of his brothers. This celebrated division of the 
inheritance of Clothair I. was made in the year. 567, and from this 

* We refer our readers to the interesting history of Sainte Radegonde in M. Augustin 
Thierry's charming Eecits Merovingiens. 


moment commenced the long and bloody rivalry between Neustria and 

Chilperic and Sigebert distinguished themselves by their fratricidal 
hatred ; and were surpassed in audacity, ambition, and barbarity, by 
their wives, whose names acquired a great and melancholy celebrity. . 

Sigebert had married Brunhilda, daughter of the King of the 
Visigoths ; and Chilperic, surnamed the Nero of France, jealous of the 
alliance contracted by his brother, put aside the claims of his mistress, 
Fredegonde, in order to espouse Gralswintha, sister of Brunhilda. He 
had, at this period, three sons by his first wife Andovera, whom he 
repudiated, and imprisoned at Rouen. Shortly after his second 
marriage, he had Gralswintha strangled, at the instigation of Fredegonde, 
and took the latter for his wife. Brunhilda swore to avenge her sister, 
and the enmity of the two queens caused streams of blood to flow. 

After an unsuccessful war against his brother Sigebert, the King of 
ISTeustria submitted, asked for peace, and accepted a treaty, which he 
violated almost immediately afterwards by taking up arms again. 
Sigebert marched on Paris, which city Chilperic had seized, laid the 
environs of the city waste, took it by storm, and forced his brother to 
shut himself up in Tournay with his wife and children. The Australian 
army invested the latter town, and Sigebert declared that he would 
kill Chilperic ; but he wished first to have himself elected King of 
Keustria, and designated for this solemnity the royal domain of Vitry, 
near Douai. Germanus,* Bishop of Paris, tried in vain to move 
Sigebert by exciting the pity of Queen Brunhilda, who was even more 
ardent for vengeance than her husband. He addressed the King 
himself in these words : " King Sigebert, if thou wilt renounce the 
thought of killing thy brother, thou shalt be victorious ; if thou hast 
another thought, thou shalt die." Sigebert persisted in his fratricidal 
projects. He proceeded to Vitry, where he was raised on the buckler, 
and proclaimed King of Neustria in the assembly of the Franks ; 
but, in the midst of the rejoicings, two young emissaries of Frede- 
gonde stabbed the King with poisoned knives. He died, and his army 
dispersed : Chilperic regained his crown and Paris, into which city he 
entered as a victor. 

* The Church canonized him, and he is known by the name of St. Germain. 


The widow of the assassinated King Sigebert, Brunhilda, was still 
in that city with her two daughters and her youthful son, Childebert. 
By order of Chilperic she was arrested and kept as a prisoner, with 
her children, in the old imperial Palace of the Thermae ; but Gronde- 
baud, an Austrasian noble, contrived the escape of young Childebert. 
The royal child was let down in a basket from, a window of the palace ; 
and a faithful servant placed him behind him on a horse, and carried 
him to Metz, where Child.ebert II. was proclaimed King of Austrasia 
in 575. 

King Chilperic then sent Brunhilda, with her two daughters, in exile 
to Houen, where she was joined by Merovic, the son of Chilperic and 
the unfortunate Andovera, and himself exposed to the furious hatred 
of his formidable mother-in-law, Fredegonde. Merovic conceived a 
violent passion for Brunhilda, which she returned ; and they asked for 
the nuptial blessing at the hands of Bishop Pretextatus, who united 
them in secret, and thus drew down on himself the implacable 
vengeance of Fredegonde. Chilperic, speedily informed of the 
marriage, took umbrage at it, and hastened to Rouen, where he 
separated the couple. Brunhilda regained her liberty, and fled into 
Austrasia ; but Merovic was arrested by his father's orders, under- 
went the tonsure, was ordained priest, in spite of his protests, and in 
defiance of the canons of the Church, and exiled to the monastery of 
St. Calais, near Mans. While being taken by an armed body to the 
place of his exile, Merovic, escaping from his guardians, took 
refuge in the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, where the celebrated 
Bishop Gregory at that time occupied the episcopal see. The 
right of asylum in churches was, in this utterly barbarous age, the 
sole safeguard of the oppressed against the violence of the princes. 
Bishop Gregory maintained this dangerous right in all its rigour, and 
dared, for a long time, to defend Merovic against his father's arms ; 
but the young prince at length grew weary of his voluntary seclusion 
in a church, and, quitting it, with an escort of horsemen, he tried to 
join his wife, Queen Brunhilda, in Austrasia. But the latter, during 
the minority of the youthful Childebert, her son, was herself living 
with him under the formidable guardianship of the Austrasian leudes ; 
and was powerless to protect her husband against them. They 
repulsed Merovic, and the fugitive prince was constrained to continue 


his vagabond route through Neustrian Gaul, pursued by the implacable 
anger of his father and Fredegonde. At length, surrounded on all 
sides, and on the point of falling into their hands, he committed 
suicide, and his servants perished in frightful tortures. Fredegonde 
was not, however, sufficiently avenged ; and her fury fell even upon 
the prelate who had dared to bestow the nuptial blessing. The 
Metropolitan of Rouen, Pretextatus, was, in her eyes, guilty of a 
crime, and she had him assassinated at the foot of the altar. Only 
one child, of the name of Clovis, by Chilperic's first marriage, sur- 
vived Merovic. Fredegonde conspired his ruin. She accused him of 
witchcraft and casting spells on her own children : his young wife was 
handed over to the hangman, and Clovis was stabbed to death at Noisy. 

Nothing checked the Merovingian princes in the transports of their 
unregulated passions and fury : as barbarians, who had attained the 
enjoyment of Roman luxuries and civilization before they had put off 
their savage instincts, they set no bounds to their desires, and the pre- 
mature end of their race could be foreseen. One day, when Chilperic 
was residing at his palace of Braine, two Gallic bishops, Salrius of 
Alby, and Gregory of Tours, were walking together round the palace : 
suddenly Salvius stopped, and said to Gregory, " Dost thou see any- 
thing over this building ? " 

The Bishop of Tours replied, " I see the belvedere which the King 
is having built." 

" Dost thou not perceive something else ? " 

" No ! but if thou seest aught, tell it to me ! " 

Salvius sighed, and continued, " I see the sword of the wrath of 
God suspended over the house." 

Chilperic, after his re- establishment on the throne, set no bounds on 
his ambition and cupidity. He invaded the states of his brother 
Gontran during a war that prince was waging against the Lombards, 
and was supported in his aggression by the people of Aquitaine, a 
portion of whom were the subjects of Gontran. An army of Aquita- 
nians, under the command of Didier, Count of Toulouse, marched 
upon Burgundy; but Gontran had, as leader of his troops, a great 
captain, the Patrician* Mummoles ; who, after exterminating the 

* The Patrician was, after the King, the first dignitary among the Burgundians. 


Lombards, attacked tlie Aquitanians, destroyed their army, and recap- 
tured all the places which Chilperic had seized. Six years later, a new 
invasion of the Neustrians into Burgundy was repulsed, and Chilperic 
perished soon after, being assassinated in the forest of Chelles by the 
orders of Fredegonde. Of all the male children he had by this san- 
guinary woman, only one, a child of the name. of Olothair, survived him.. 
His mother undertook the guardianship of him, and, being menaced 
simultaneously by all the enemies whom her crimes had aroused against 
her, she placed herself, with her son, under the protection of King 
Gontran, the best — or, speaking more correctly, the least cruel — of the 
sons of Olothair I., and who was surnamed "the Good," less on 
account of his merits, than from a comparison with the other princes, 
of his race. 

Brunhilda was at this period disputing the guardianship of her 
young son, Childebert II., with the nobles of Austrasia. She^united 
to a vast and active genius indomitable passions, and wished at once 
to punish Fredegonde, her rival, and retain her authority over the 
Austrasians, who, neighbours of . Germany, the cradle of their ances- 
tors, were^the most undisciplined nation in Gaul. Brunhilda was fond 
of Boman civilization : she desired to establish in her son's states the 
centralization of the monarchical power, and the system of the Boman 
government in levying the public imposts. But the Austrasian 
nobles endured with impatience the yoke of the royal authority ; the 
Boman system of taxation was especially odious to them ; and they 
regarded imposts as a disgraceful tribute which should only be paid by 
the vanquished : they, therefore, formed a league against Brunhilda, 
and became her most dangerous enemies. The Frank kings had, up to 
this time, been accustomed to set one of their leudes over the officers- 
of their house, as steward of the royal domains : this officer, who had 
the title of majordomo, was at a later date called "mayor of the 
palace of the kings," and was merely their first domestic. But, after the 
death of Sigebert, the Austrasian nobles, jealous of Brunhilda's 
authority, elected one of their number mayor of the palace ; and 
added to his functions that of presiding over them and watching 
the youthful King. Brunhilda tried in vain to oppose the haughty 
aristocracy, who claimed a share in the guardianship of her son : she 


therefore restrained herself till Cliildebert was of the age to govern by 
himself, and inspired him with a profound dissimulation. 

It was not alone in Austrasia that a reaction was visible against the 
descendants of Merovic. Royalty was no longer in Gaul what it had 
formerly been in the savage forests of Germany. xV multitude of canses 
had concurred to produce, this change: the conquest of vast countries; 
the possession of numerous domains and large treasures, the fruit of 
immense spoils ; the rarity of the national meetings, owing to the 
dispersion of the conquerors over the land ; and, lastly, the traditions 
of the majesty of the Roman Empire and the absolute power of the 
Emperor, — all this fed the ambition of the descendants of Clovis. 
They believed themselves the legitimate successors of the Ceesars, 
and gradually usurped an arbitrary and despotic authority over their 
own comrades in arms and the Frank aristocracy. 

The aristocracy resisted ; they had lost their strength by becoming 
dispersed, and re-acquired it by becoming landowners. Hitherto 
floating, they had become fixed; they had acquired perpetuity with 
property : a multitude of freemen resorted to them for their support 
against the exactions of the treasury and royal officers ; and this 
patronage spread in spite of the prohibitions of the kings. The 
Church itself, though it had at first favoured the progress of the royal 
authority, grew weary of a despotism which no longer respected its 
immunities "and privileges, and the bishops leagued, themselves with 
the principal leudes. 

A formidable conspiracy was entered into against the Kings of: 
Austrasia and Burgundy. The aristocracy desired a king who would 
be a passive instrument in their hands, and turned their attention to a 
natural and unrecognized son of Clothair I., of the name of Gonde- 
vald. The latter, fearing the suspicious jealousy of the kings his 
brothers, had sought a refuge at Constantinople, at the court of the 
Emperor Maurice. No other man was better adapted, by his name 
and character, to serve the projects of the ambitious nobles of Gaul. 
An Austrasian lord, whom his treachery has rendered shamefully cele- 
brated, Gontran Boson, was sent by the leudes of Burgundy and 
Austrasia to Gondevald, to seduce him by the lure of a brilliant share 
of the inheritance of Clothair I., his father. He at the same time 


flattered the Emperor Maurice with the hope of recovering a portion of 
his imperial rights over Gaul by favouring the enterprise of Gondevald ; 
and the latter quitted Constantinople with immense wealth which 
he received as a present from the Emperor. But the treasures which, 
in his idea, were destined to aid his success, paved the way for his ruin. 
They tempted the cupidity of the traitor Boson, who stole them, 
and, returning to Austrasia, purchased his pardon of King Childebert. 
Gondevald, however, was enthusiastically received in the south of 
Gaul. The Aquitanians and Provencaux, among whom Roman 
civilization had been best preserved, impatiently endured the 
barbarous yoke of the Franks ; and, attempting to liberate them- 
selves after the death of Chilperic, the insurrection spread the 
furthest in those parts of Aquitaine subjected to the Kings of ISTeustria 
and Burgundy. The most powerful men in those countries espoused 
the cause of Gondevald ; and he had at the head of his armies Didier, 
Duke of Toulouse, Bladast, Duke of Bordeaux, and the famous 
Patrician Mummoles, who, formerly a general of Gontran, had become 
his enemy. Gondevald announced himself as heir of Clothair I. in 
those parts of Aquitaine dependent on Neu stria and Burgundy ; but 
he respected the claims of Childebert II. in Austrasian Aquitaine. 
Bordeaux, Toulouse, and other large towns, opened their gates to 
Gondevald, and the larger portion of Gaul to the south of the Loire 
was gained over or conquered. Deputies then proceeded to King 
Gontran, and summoned him to give Gondevald the share of the king- 
dom belonging to him ; " otherwise," they said, " he will come with 
his army, fight with you, and God will judge whether he is the son 
of Clothair or not." Gontran, in answer, had them tortured; but, 
terrified by the progress of the revolution, he invited his nephew 
Childebert II. to join him against Gondevald, and drew him into the 
alliance by adopting him as his heir. 

On the approach of the formidable armies of Burgundy and 
Austrasia, defections commenced in Aquitaine, Duke Didier setting 
the example. Gondevald, abandoned by a great portion of the 
Aquitanians, was compelled to seek a refuge in the town of 
Comminges, where he shut himself up with Mummoles, and a band 
of valiant warriors. This town, built on a scarped rock, was defended 
by nature, by formidable ramparts, and above all by the genius of 


the invincible Mummoles. The besiegers saw that they conld not 
subdue the victor of the Lombards by force of arms, and after use- 
lessly employing force, they attempted successfully to seduce Mm. 
Mummoles promised to deliver up Gondevald ; and, proceeding with 
the principal chiefs to the prince, said to him, " Leave the city, go 
to your brother, and be not "afraid." Gondevald saw that he was 
lost ; and replied, with a torrent of tears, " I came to Gaul on your 
entreaties. I came with immense treasures : they have been taken 
from me ; and, excepting the aid of Heaven, I placed all my hopes 
in you. Let God be the judge between you and me ! " 

Mummoles and the chiefs were inflexible. They led Gondevald out 
of the town, and surrendered him to Ollon, Count of Bourges, and 
to Gontran Boson, who had despoiled him of his treasures. " Eternal 
Judge!" exclaimed the unfortunate prince, " Avenger of innocence ! 
avenge me on those who have surrendered me, an innocent man, to 
my enemies !" He went toward the army of the besiegers, arrayed 
on the plain. "Here," said Count Ollon, "is the man who calls 
himself the son and brother of kings !" and, at the same moment, he 
ran his spear through him. Endeavouring to rise, he was hurled 
down again, and killed by a fragment of rock thrown by Boson. 
Thus perished Gondevald, after a harsh experience of the inconstancy 
of men, and the most extreme vicissitudes of fortune. 

This treachery was of no advantage to the traitors. The Austro- 
Burgundian army penetrated into the town, which they fired ; and in- 
habitants, priests, and soldiers all perished, by the sword, or by fire. 
Mummoles was not spared : his rebellion had effaced his services, 
and Gontran ordered that he should be put to death. This powerful 
chief perished by assassination, in the midst of the army which had 
gained the victory solely through him ; and with him vanished the 
great conspiracy which had made the King of Burgundy tremble 
on his throne. Shortly afterwards, at an assembly held at Andelot, 
the traitor Gontran Boson was condemned by the two Kings, and a 
price set on his head. The house of a bishop, in which the proscribed 
man had taken refuge, was burnt like the lair of a wild beast. Boson 
came out of it, sword in hand, and expired on the threshold, trans- 
fixed by a cloud of arrows : when dead, he stood erect, fixed to the 
wall. Such was the mode in which royal decrees were carried out : 


acts of justice were not distinguished from those of violence ; but were 
as barbarously executed as the crimes they were intended to punish. 

The two princes, uncle and nephew, then formed a new compact 
in the solemn assembly of Andelot. The common interests of the 
kingdoms of Burgundy and Austrasia were regulated there, and the 
survivor of the two Kings was recognized as the heir of the other. 
After this, King Ohildebert, encouraged by his successes in Aquitaine, 
the support of Grontran, and the genius of his mother, Brunhilda, 
shook off the yoke of his leudes, and put several of them to death. 
A conspiracy against his life was detected. A powerful lord, the 
ferocious Rauking, who had agreed to kill him with his own hand, was 
summoned to the presence of Ohildebert, and found him surrounded by 
his guards : the King had the intended assassin killed in his presence. 
On another occasion, he invited his court, and Magnovald, the most 
formidable of the nobles, to witness a combat of animals, and while the 
bull was expiring in the arena, a warrior cleft the head of Magnovald 
with his axe. 

While the youthful Ohildebert was signalizing his reign in 
Austrasia by bloodthirsty acts, old King Gontran was terminating 
his in Burgundy by reverses. His armies were defeated in Septimania, 
or Languedoc, by the Yisigoths, and fell back in Novempopulania 
before the Vascons, the ferocious mountaineers of the Pyrenees. The 
old King died in 593, and Ohildebert, his nephew and adopted son, 
succeeded him. By his succession to the throne of G-ontran the 
strength of Austrasia was doubled ; and Queen Brunhilda, thinking 
the moment favourable to avenge herself on her old enemy, the 
Austrasian army marched against Neustria, where the youthful 
Clothair II. reigned, under the direction of his mother, Fredegonde, 
and Landeric, mayor of the palace. Fredegonde anticipated her 
rival. She occupied Soissons, and offered battle in the plains of 
Truccia, near Chateau Thierry. Ohildebert' s army was suddenly 
seized with a panic at the sight of a moving forest apparently 
marching against them. It was the ISTeustrian army, the soldiers 
of which carried in front of them leafy branches, for the purpose of 
concealing their numbers. The Austrasians took to flight, and Ohilde- 
bert accepted a peace, which could only be a short truce. He sur- 
vived his defeat only a few years, and died, after undertaking some 



other wai*like expeditions, in 596, leaving two sons of tender age, 
Theodebert and Thierry. 

At this time the three kingdoms of the Franks recognized as 
Kings three boys. Clothair II. reigned in ISTeustria, Theodebert II. 
in Austrasia, and Thierry II. in Burgundy — the first under the 
guardianship of Fredegonde, the two others under that of their 
grandmother Brunhilda. The implacable hatred of these two 
queens rekindled hostilities ; and in a great battle fought at Latofao, 
near Sens, by Fredegonde and Landeric, against the sons of Childebert, 
the Austrasians and Burgundians took to flight. Fredegonde entered 
Paris victoriously ; reconstituted the old kingdom of Neustria in its 
integrity ; and died, after triumphing over all her enemies, either by 
the sword or by poison. 

The enterprises of Brunhilda were much more difficult than those 
of her rival had been, and her genius constantly encountered 
invincible obstacles. The nobles of Austrasia, for a time subdued by 
Childebert, tried to render themselves independent during the 
childhood of his son, and combined once again against the despotism 
of Brunhilda. The young King himself, as weary as they were of 
his grandmother's yoke, was their secret accomplice. In order to 
save her life, the old Queen left the palace of Theodebert and 
Austrasia as a fugitive, and sought an asylum in Burgundy, where 
she was received with great honour by her other grandson, King Thierry, 
and the Burgundian nobles. It is said that she had recourse to crime, 
and corrupted the morals of the young prince in order to subject 
him the better to her will. Irritated against Theodebert, who had 
seconded or permitted the violence to which she had been exposed 
in Austrasia, Brunhilda deferred taking vengeance on him till she 
had satiated her hatred of the son of Fredegonde. Excited by their 
grandmother, the two brothers, Theodebert and Thierry, formed an 
alliance against Clothair II., and the united Austrasian and Burgundian 
armies came up with the Ueustrians at Dormeille, in the country of 
Sens. Clothair was conquered, and the carnage was awful. The 
chroniclers of the age tell us that the exterminating angel was seen 
waving his sword of fire over the two armies. Two years later, 
Brunhilda, at the head of the Burgundians, gained another victory 
over the Neustrians at Etampes. Clothair had all but fallen into 


her hands, when she learned that Theodebert, King of Australia, had 
treated at Compiegne with their common enemy, whom he had it in 
his power to crnsh. This peace saved the son of Fredegonde, but 
filled with rage the heart of Brunhilda, who from this moment only 
thought of punishing Theodebert. She armed Thierry against his 
brother, and, after a sanguinary war that lasted several years, between 
the Burgundians and Austrasians, the two armies met on the already 
celebrated plains of Tolbiac. The contest was horrible : the com- 
batants, Fredegarius tells us, were so crowded that the dead had no 
room to fall, but stood erect one against the other as if still living. 
Theodebert was conquered, and fled ; but fell into the hands of his 
brother, who put his young son to death before his eyes, while Theo- 
debert himself was murdered by the orders of his implacable grand- 
mother. Thierry died suddenly in the following year. 

The priests alone, at this period, raised their voices to brand so 
many crimes, and their pious courage frequently exposed their lives to 
danger. The crimes of Fredegonde drew from Pretextatus, Bishop of 
Rouen, a few Christian and bold remarks ; and she had him assassinated 
at the foot of the altar. Other Grospel teachers reproached Brunhilda, 
who was nearly sixty years of age, for her shameful debaucheries ; and 
one of them, St. Didier, was stoned by her orders. Another, of the 
name of Columbanus, who enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity, 
refused, in the presence of Brunhilda, to bless the King's bastards. 
He broke the festive cup offered him, and poured the wine on the 
ground, in reprobation of the royal conduct. He was exiled: the 
people flocked round to bless him, and his progress to the frontier was 
a triumph. 

Thierry left four sons, of whom Sigebert, the eldest, was scarce 
eleven years of age. Brunhilda undertook to have him crowned alone, 
and to maintain the unity of his father's states by evading the custom 
of division. This attempt excited a rebellion, and the nobles sum- 
moned to their aid Clothair II., King of Neustria. Clothair was already 
on the Meuse, and marched upon the Rhine. Brunhilda proceeded to 
Worms with her great-grandsons, and sought support from the Ger- 
mans. A portion of the Austrasian leudes had already passed over into 
Clothair' s camp : the others flocked round their King in order to betray 
him more easily. The most distinguished of the conspirators were 


66 DEATH OF BRUNHILDA. [Book I. Chap. II. 

two powerful Austrasian lords, whose children became by intermarriage 
the stem of the second royal dynasty of France. They were Arnolph, 
afterwards canonized as Bishop of Metz, and Pepin of Landen (a 
town in Hainanlt), or the Old One. They both, under the authority 
of the celebrated Warnacharius, Mayor of the Palace in Burgundy, 
aided the success of the famous plot whose object was the overthrow 
of Queen Brunhilda and her race. 

The combined Austrasian and Burgundian armies met the ISTeu- 
strians on the banks of the Aisne in Champagne. The conspirators 
then declared themselves. Clothair II. was hailed as king by all the 
Franks, and three of Thierry's sons were surrendered to him. He had 
the young King Sigebert murdered, with one of his brothers : he 
exiled another to ISTeustria, but the fourth escaped him, and never 
reappeared. Lastly, the haughty Brunhilda herself fell into the 
hands of the son of Fredegonde, who avenged himself as his mother 
would have done. Brunhilda — daughter, wife, sister, and mother of 
kings — was abandoned for three days to the executioners-, then carried 
semi-naked round the camp on a camel, and exposed to the outrages of 
the soldiery, after which she was fastened alive to the tail of a wild horse, 
which tore her into fragments. She had been for forty-eight years the 
terror of her enemies, and eventually succumbed because she tried to 
impose on a semi-savage nation the government of an advanced civili- 
zation. The coarse minds of the Pranks did not comprehend the 
advantages derived from the unity of a vast empire ; and, even had 
they done so, they would have refused to sacrifice their individual 
ambition and fierce independence for them. Brunhilda was fond of the 
arts : she repaired several Roman rOads, and restored many fine monu- 
ments. In her religious zeal she lavished immense sums on the clergy, 
and built a prodigious number of churches and monasteries. All that 
this queen did received from her a gigantic stamp. Her long reign was 
sullied by many crimes, but it did not pass away without a certain 
grandeur and some amount of glory. 

After the death of Brunhilda, Clothair II. united under his sceptre 
the entire Prank monarchy, and was soon able to discover that the 
unity of his vast empire was only apparent. The nobles of Austrasia, 
in overthrowing Sigebert, had thought much less about raising Clothair 
than aggrandizing themselves. They wanted a prince to reside among 


them, that they might direct him as they thought proper ; and they 
forced the King to share his throne with his son Dagobert, and give 
them the latter as their sovereign. Dagobert, who had scarce emerged 
from infancy, reigned Tinder the gnardianship of Arnolph, Bishop of 

The most celebrated event in the reign of Clothair II. was the 
council, or synod, of Paris in 615. In the midst of the chaos into which 
the Frank conquest had plunged Gaul, everything was in disorder and 
gloom except the Church, which had alone retained, through tradition, 
literary associations and ideas of public order and regular government. 
The bishops were generally respected and feared by the kings, in spite 
of the violence to which several of them were exposed ; and, in various 
instances, they combined with the lay nobles to place a check on the 
foolish and barbarous authority of the Merovingian princes. They 
held, during the sixth century, numerous councils ; and in the one 
which assembled in Paris in the reign of Clothair II., two aristo- 
cracies came together, that of the bishops and that of the lords. The 
famous edict which this assembly promulgated forms an epoch in 
history ; for it marked the success of the reaction of the nobles against 
the kings, by shaking the system of arbitrary government which the 
latter had tried to found. By this edict canonical elections were 
established; the clerks remained independent of secular justice; the 
treasury was prohibited from seizing successions ab intestato and raising 
the taxation ; and the judges and officers of the king were rendered 
responsible. The edict further ordered the restitution of the benefices 
taken from the leudes, protected rich widows, nuns, and virgins, from 
the caprice and violence of the princes ; and punished any infraction 
of its provisions with death. One of the chief articles settled that 
the judges, or counts, should be always selected from the landowners 
of the parts where their jurisdiction would be exercised ; and from 
this time, the dignity of count belonged nearly always to the richest 
proprietor in each county, and the royal choice had narrow limits. 
"We know but little more about the reign of Clothair II.' Sanguinary 
wars broke out between him and his son Dagobert, whose independ- 
ence he was compelled to recognize ; and his life was extinguished 
in the midst of civil troubles. He died in 628, before he had been 
able to secure the establishment of his second son, Caribert. 

F 2 

68 [Book I. Chap. III. 



The sceptre of Dagobert extended over the three great kingdoms of 
the Frank monarchy — ISTeustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy ; from which 
he detached Aquitaine, that is to say, the territory between the Loire, 
the Rhone, and the Pyrenees, and gave it to his brother Caribert. The 
latter soon died, and his eldest son was assassinated, it is said, by a 
faction devoted to Dagobert, who resumed possession of his brother's 
states ; but left Aquitaine, under the title of duchy, to the two re- 
maining sons of Caribert, Boggis and Bertrand, reserving, however, all 
the royal rights over them. The unity of the Frank monarchy was 
thus once again restored. 

If a Merovingian king could have arrested the fall of his dynasty, 
Dagobert would have had this glory. He followed in the track 
of Queen Brunhilda, and supported himself against the nobles 
by appealing to the Grallo-Roman populations, who detested their 
tyranny : he made terrible examples in Austrasia and Burgundy, and 
kept the factions in obedience by the terror he inspired. ~Not one 
of the kings descended from Clovis caused his power to be more 
respected, or displayed greater magnificence. The bishops, leudes, and 
foreign ambassadors, crowded his court ; and the spoils of a portion 
of Europe, gold, silk, precious stones, were displayed in his country 
palaces, and in his royal residence of Clichy, near Paris. The splendour 
of Dagobert nearly equalled that of Eastern potentates. In the early 
part of his reign, he did not allow his mind to be weakened by the 
luxury with which he surrounded himself, and devoted his time to 
useful occupations. He it was who had the Salic and Ripuarian laws 
revised and written, as well as those of his Allemannic and Bavarian 
vassals. In the end, however, he gave way to debauchery and cruelty ; 
he forgot the claims of justice, and imposed heavy tributes on his 
people. At the same time, his arms were not successful. The Wincli, 
or Yenedes, a Sclavonic nation, having been liberated from the yoke 
of the Avarians by the Frank Samo, elected him as their king, took 
possession of a portion of Bohemia, and established themselves in the 
valley of the Danube, which was at this period the great commercial 
route between Northern Gaul and Constantinople and Asia. A large 

511-638] REIGN OP DAGOBERT I. 69 

caravan of Franks was plundered and massacred by this people. 
Dagobert demanded satisfaction ; and, being unable to obtain it, sum- 
moned the Franks to take vengeance. War was proclaimed in all his 
states, and among his northern and western vassals ; and the Germans 
and Thuringians, united with the Franks and Lombards, marched 
against the Windi. These armies perished in the desert countries, and 
the power of the Franks was shaken through the whole of Germany. 

Dagobert, from this time, confined his attention to keeping his own 
subjects in obedience. The Austrasians, ever ready to revolt, forced 
him to share his throne with his son Sigebert, three years of age, and 
give him to them as king. Dagobert confided the child to Duke 
Adalgesil ; but he demanded, and obtained, that Pepin of Landen, 
and other Austrasian lords, should remain at his court as hostages. 
He also had another son, of the name of Clovis, designated and 
recognized as King of Neustria and Burgundy. The bishops and 
nobles of Austrasia, constrained, as a contemporary historian states, 
by their terror of Dagobert, swore to sanction the dismemberment 
of his empire. This prince, in the last year of his reign, repulsed 
an invasion of the Yascons, repressed a revolt in Aquitaine, and made 
a treaty with the Bretons, who recognized his supremacy. 

In spite of the reverses of his arms against the Windi, and numerous 
causes of internal dissolution, Dagobert remained to the end of his 
reign powerful and feared. He combined, like many of the princes of 
his race, a great fervour for religion, and a superstitious devotion, 
with licentious tastes. He made immense gifts to the clergy, and 
covered France with churches and monasteries. He gave his confidence 
to the referendary Audouen, and the jeweller Eligius, the master of the 
royal mint. These two men, better known by the names of St. Ouen 
and St. Eloi, were both canonized, and their memory has become 
popular. Dagobert died in 638. He had displayed great generosity 
to the monastery of St. Denis, whose basilica he covered with gold 
and precious stones, and where he was buried with great pomp. This 
king, despite all his vices, surpassed in merit the majority of the 
princes of his family. When he died, a century and a half had. 
elapsed since the elevation of Clovis to the throne of the Franks, and 
this period, marked by so much devastation and so many crimes, was 
the most memorable during the reign of the Merovingians. 

70 SLOTHFUL KINGS. [Book I. Chap. III. 







After the death of Dagobert I., the Merovingian family only offers us 
phantoms of kings, brutalized by indolence and debauchery, and whom 
history has justly branded with the title of rois faineants. Through 
their very nullity they had an additional title to the throne in the 
sight of those who reigned in their name. By the side of royalty 
grew up the magistrature of the Mayors of the Palace, who, during 
some of the later reigns, had already several times substituted their 
authority for that of the monarch. They took advantage of the weak- 
ness of the Merovingians to usurp de facto the entire power. Elected 
by the leudes, they had for a long period been supported by them in 
governing the sovereigns ; but, when their power was thoroughly 
established, they crushed the nobles, in order that there might be 
henceforth no other authority than their own. They then transmitted 
their office to their sons, and it was eventually regarded as the appanage 
of a family, in the same way as the sceptre seemed to belong by right 
to the race of Clovis. 

Dagobert, when dying, had recognized Ega as mayor in Neustria, 
and Pepin of Landen in Austrasia; and had confided to them the 
guardianship of his two sons, Sigebert III. and Clovis II., between 
whom his states were divided. Ega died, and Erkinoald succeeded to 
his office. The childhood and character of the two kings contributed 


to a great extent in establishing the power of the mayors of the 

Sigebert III., who was entirely devoted to religions practices, lived 
like a monk in his Anstrasian states, and restricted the exercise of his 
authority to the care of enriching the churches and building monas- 
teries : he died in the flower of his age. Clovis II., on the contrary, 
only saw in the royalty of Neustria and Burgundy the fatal facility 
for satisfying his shameful taste for debauchery. Still, his nominal 
authority extended over the entire monarchy of the Franks, and 
Austrasia also recognized him as king. The mayor had been succeeded 
by his son Grimoald. The latter, on the death of Sigebert III., had 
tried to get the sceptre into his family. He had the youthful Dago- 
bert, son of Sigebert, conveyed to Ireland, concealed the place of his 
retreat, and dared to place the crown on the head of his own son.; but 
the Austrasian nobles revolted against an authority which was inde- 
pendent of their choice. They put Grimoald and his son to death, 
and recognized as their master the weak Clovis II., King of Neustria, 
who very shortly after followed his brother Sigebert III. to the grave, 
and left his sceptre and empty royal title to Clothair III., his elder son. 

The famous Ebrouin, gifted with great talents, and of an inflexible 
character, was at that time mayor of the palace. Still, he did not 
succeed in long maintaining the apparent unity of the monarchy. 
The Austrasian lords required a king who, like his predecessors, 
should be subject to their influence. They summoned the youthful 
Childeric, second son of Clovis II., greeted him as King of Austrasia, 
and gave him for guardian the Mayor Wulfoald. 

The nobles had been unable to establish a regular aristocratic 
government in any one of the three kingdoms forming the monarchy : 
their power had only tended to render them more and more inde- 
pendent. Ebrouin saw in the progress of their individual authority 
a step toward general anarchy. He was jealous of the excess of 
their power; and, either through policy or personal ambition, he 
wished to remain sole master in Neustria and Burgundy. His des- 
potism caused all the nobles to revolt. The celebrated Bishop of 
Autun, Leger, of whom the Church has made a saint, placed himself 
at the head of the insurgents in Burgundy, and gave the example of 
an obstinate resistance. Ebrouin at first subdued the rebellion, but 


tlie death, of Clothair III. shook Lis power. He did not dare convene 
the nobles, according to custom, in a national mall, in order to elect 
a successor to this prince, who died childless ; and he proclaimed as 
king", of his own authority, the youthful Thierry, third son of Cloyis II. 
This violation of the old customs of the kingdom armed the nobles 
against Ebrouin. The lords of Neustria and Burgundy were no more 
willing than those of Austrasia to see the mayors usurp the right of 
election to the throne, and they offered the crown of the two king- 
doms to Ohilderic II., King of Austrasia. 

Ebrouin, abandoned by all, took refuge in a church. His life was 
spared : he was forced to take the tonsure, and was imprisoned in 
the monastery of Luxeuil. Thierry III. was led as a prisoner into his 
brother's presence, and confined -by his orders at St. Denis. 

Childeric II. removed his residence from Metz to Paris. This prince 
combined with the brutal passions of his degenerate race, the energetic 
character of his ancestors. Constrained, at first, to subscribe the con- 
ditions imposed on him by the nobles who had crowned him, he no 
longer observed them when he felt his strength. He combated the 
leudes with severity, and shut up Bishop Leger in the same monastery 
of Luxeuil, into which the latter had thrown Ebrouin. Misfortune 
reconciled for a time these two great enemies. They formed a conspiracy 
against the rash Childeric, who had dared to inflict on one of his 
leudes, of the name of Bodolus, a dishonourable punishment reserved 
for slaves. Bodolus and the conspirators surprised the King, while 
hunting in the forest of Bondy, near the royal mansion of Chelles. 
Their vengeance was atrocious, for they murdered him, with his wife 
and children. Ebrouin and Bishop Leger came out of captivity 
together, and became once more deadly foes. Ebrouin eventually 
gained the victory over his formidable rival, whom he deprived of 
sight, and then had him tried by an episcopal synod, and condemned 
to death. Taking from prison the weak Thierry, a useful and blind 
instrument of his despotic will, he obtained the support of the masses 
against the nobles, and exercised for a long time an uncontrolled 
power. He set everything to work to break up the hereditary aris- 
tocracy. He brought the benefices into circulation again ; he tore the 
estates of the treasury from the powerful families that had long 
regarded them as their patrimony : he divided them among new men, 

638-652] DEATH OF EBROUIN. 73 

thus interesting a numerous class of poor tenants in the defence of his 

Still, a formidable cloud collected against Ebrouin in Austrasia. 
After the death of Childeric II., this country was again separated 
from the kingdoms of JSeustria and Burgundy. Y oung Dagobert, son 
of Sigebert III., was recalled from the monastery where he lived 
concealed, in Ireland. This young prince, who was greedy and cruel, 
wished to make victims of the authors of his fortunes, and his 
rashness was only paralleled by his violence. Imitating the last King, 
Childeric, he met with a similar fate, and was assassinated by the 
nobles of Austrasia, without leaving an heir. 

Among his murderers were several partizans and relatives of the 
old mayor, Pepin of Landen, whose male posterity had become ex- 
tinct with Grimoald and his son, but whose family for a long time 
retained great influence. A daughter of Pepin, of the name 
of Legga, had married the son of the great Arnolph, Bishop of 
Metz. She had a son by him, who received the name of his maternal 
grandfather, and whom historians, in order to distinguish him from 
Pepin the Old, have surnamed Pepin of Heristal, from the name 
of a celebrated estate on which he lived on the banks of the Meuse. 
This young man, during the interregnum which followed the death of 
Dagobert, was recognized as one of the chiefs of the aristocracy of 
the dukes and counts of Austrasia. The nobles triumphed in this 
country, and were crushed in Neustria and Burgundy. A multitude 
of exiles from these two kingdoms demanded vengeance of the 
Dukes of Austrasia upon Ebrouin, and a fresh and terrible collision 
took place on the plain of Latafao, which had already been fatal 
to the Austrasians. Neustria was once more victorious. Ebrouin 
triumphed : but he was unable to cull the fruits of his victory. A 
lord, of the name of Ermanfroi, who had been proved culpable in his 
office, and threatened with death, anticipated Ebrouin, by cleaving his 
skull with his axe, and fled to Austrasia, where Pepin of Heristal 
overwhelmed him with honours. The historians of the, age, mostly 
deadly enemies of Ebrouin, display him to us as very pitiless and per- 
fidious ; but his memory was honoured in some popular legends. " He 
violently repressed," Ave are told in them, " all the iniquities that were 
committed on. the face of the earth. He chastised the misdeeds of 


proud and unjust men, and caused peace to reign : he was a man of a 
great heart, although he was too cruel to the bishops." * Ebrouin, 
though he had no sceptre or crown, had reigned for twenty years with 
a power that no king had exercised before him. 




The feeble Thierry was still reigning in ISTeustria, when Waratho, and 
after him Berthair, succeeded Ebrouin in his office. The reins of 
government, on slipping from his powerful grasp, were relaxed in their 
feeble hands. Civil discord agitated Neustria : hope was rearoused in 
the banished lords. They renewed their applications to Pepin of 
Heristal, and the other dukes of Austrasia, and another revolution was 
resolved on. Pepin announced himself as the avenger of the Frank 
nobles and priests despoiled by the mayors of Neustria, and was pro- 
claimed commander-in-chief. He encountered the Neustrian army at 
Testry, in the county of Vermandois, gained a great victory, and made 
King Thierry a prisoner. Having then assured himself that no one was 
more fitted than this weak prince to play the part of a puppet king, he 
recognized him as monarch of Neustria and Austrasia, and governed in 
his name as mayor of the palace, after destroying the rulers of the 
party opposed to the nobles. After the death of Thierry, Pepin crowned 
in succession his two sons, Clovis III. and Childebert III., and then 
his grandson, Dagobert III. ; but he was the real military chief, and 
sole grand judge of the nation of the Franks. He restored the old 
national customs, which had been unregarded by Ebrouin. 

The great medium or annual assembly, which had fallen into desue- 
tude, was regularly held on the calends of March, and all the members 
of the nobility were convened to it. The King proceeded thither 
in a chariot drawn by oxen, wearing the royal insignia, and with his 
long hair floating down his back. He seated himself in the midst of 
the assembly, on a golden throne, where the monarch in effigy granted 
an audience to the foreign ambassadors, and gave them the answers 
which had been dictated to him. He uttered a few remarks touching 

* Legends of St. Projectus of Auvergne, and St. Martial of Limoges._ 


peace, war, and the duties of government towards churches and orphans ; 
and then, returning as he had come, was sent by Pepin to one of the 
large royal farms, where he was guarded with honour and respect. 

This grand scene took place annually : it testifies to the prestige which 
the memory of Clovis still exercised over the Franks, and to what 
an extent popular respect attached to the blood of Merovic. This 
superstitious worship of a degenerate race is a thing difficult to under- 
stand in our days ; and we do not know which to feel more surprised 
at — the boldness of the mayors who, in the presence of a people to 
whom the name of Merovingian was sacred, thus humiliated the last 
representatives of this family ; or the cowardly imbecility of the latter, 
who were all recognized as kings, though not one of them took advan- 
tage of these solemn occasions to be so in reality. 

The empire of the Franks began to be broken up after the battle of 
Testry. The princes of the Saxons, Frisons, Allemans, Bavarians, and 
Thuringians, hitherto vassals of the Merovingian kings, considered 
themselves the equals of Pepin when they had contributed to his 
victory. Pepin contended against them, and, almost to his death, had 
to sustain long and sanguinary wars on all the northern frontiers, while 
the peoples of Burgundy and Provence shook off his yoke in the 
south. Those of Aquitaine rallied under the celebrated Eudes, Duke 
of Toulouse, and descendant of the Merovingian Caribert, brother 
of Dagobert I., to whom they gave the title of king, and rendered 
themselves almost independent of the Frank monarchy. 

Pepin had two sons, Drogon and Grimoald, by his wife Plectrude, 
and a third, of the name of Charles, by his concubine, Alpaide. He 
gave the duchy of Champagne to his eldest son, who died in 708, and 
during his own lifetime invested his second son, Grimoald, in the 
office of mayor of Neustria. An implacable hatred subsisted between 
the mothers of Charles and Grimoald, who became deadly foes. Pepin 
grew old ; he fell sick, and was all but dead, when his son Grimoald 
was murdered almost in his presence. He collected all his strength to 
avenge him ; he sprang from his death-bed, destroyed all the authors 
of the murder, and shut up his son Charles, whom he suspected of 
being an accomplice, in Bologna : then he established Grimoald's son 
Theobald, who was hardly five years of age, as mayor of the palace. 
This energetic act exhausted his strength. " He died in 714," the 


annals of the Franks tell us, "after commanding for twenty-seven 
years and six months the whole Frank people, with the kings subject to 
him — Thierry, Clovis, Childebert, and Dagobert." 





Pepin left at the head of the monarchy two boys — one king, the other 
mayor — under the guardianship of the aged Plectrude, the grand- 
mother of Theodebald. The Neustrians grew indignant at such a yoke. 
They revolted against Plectrude and her son, and chose Raginfred as 
mayor of the palace : then, allying themselves with the Frisons and 
Saxons, they attacked and disarmed Austrasia. Pressed on all sides, 
the Austrasians in their turn deserted Plectrude and her son. They 
took out of a monastery the youthful Charles, the natural son of 
Pepin, who was endowed with heroic qualities, and enthusiastically 
recognized him as king. Still, the name of the Merovingians pos- 
sessed a certain prestige ; and on the death of Dagobert III. both 
factions elected a pretended member of this degenerate race as king, 
Chilperic II. in Neustria, and Clothair IV. in Austrasia. They nomi- 
nally reigned, while the two real masters of these states, Raginfred 
and Charles, prepared for war, and marched against each other. The' 
victory could not be long undecided. The Franks of Austrasia, which 
country bordered Germany, had lost none of their warlike energy. 
The advantages they derived from the conquest were a powerful 
lure for the Grerman tribes in their vicinity, and successive immigra- 
tions naturally kept up in the Austrasian nation a more energetic 
military spirit, and more warlike habits, than in Neustria. Charles, at 
first defeated, took refuge in the Ardennes, and, assembling veteran 
bands, placed himself at their head : he surprised the Neustrians, 
committed great carnage among them, pursued them, and by the 
memorable victory of Vincy, near Cambray, gained in 717, the whole 
of ISTeustria became his conquest. The Neustrians, vanquished but 
not subjugated, summoned to their aid Eudes, King of Aquitaine, 
and offered him the sceptre. The Aquitanians regarded the Franks 


of the Rhine as far more barbarous than those of the Seine. They had 
cause to fear lest the ferocious bands of Charles might wish, like those of 
Clovis in former times, to taste the fruits of the south. They con- 
sequently united with the Neustrians, and marched against Charles, 
who defeated them near Soissons, and pursued them up to Orleans. 
Clothair IV., the puppet King of Austrasia, had just died. Charles, 
the victor over the Neustrians and Aquitanians, had Chilperic II., the 
imbecile King of Neustria, recognized as sovereign of the whole 
empire of Clovis ; and on his death, which took place two years later, 
he gave him Thierry IV. for a successor, and reigned alone in his 

The Austrasians, or Ripuarian Franks, triumphed after obstinate 
wars, and the battles of Yincy and Soissons were the last efforts of 
the Neustrians. The seat of the Frank Empire was eventually trans- 
ported to the Meuse and the Rhine ; and this was necessary in order 
to arrest aud draw back the devastating tide of new Germanic emi- 

A more terrible foe menaced the empire of the Franks. Only a 
century previously, Mohammed had founded a new religion in Arabia • 
and already his armies, electrified by religious fanaticism and a spirit 
of conquest, had invaded Asia, Africa, and Spain, and were advancing 
into Gaul. Never, since the days of Attila, had a more formidable 
invasion menaced Europe. The torrent crossed the Pyrenees, and 
first dashed down upon Septimania. Narbonne succumbed, and the 
fall of that city decided the fate of the country, where the Arab 
rule was substituted, as in Spain, for that of the Visigoths. 

The Mussulmans next menaced Aquitaine, and the other possessions 
of King Eudes. This prince, whom Charles had conquered at Sois- 
sons, held beneath his sway in Southern France several countries 
which, up to this time, had not formed part of the duchy of Aqui- 
taine, and among others the country of the Waskes, or Basques, better 
known by the name of Gascons. This valiant race, who dwelt in 
Upper Navarre, and were descended from the ancient Iberi, had 
occupied for two centuries the two watersheds of the Pyrenees, where 
for a long period, they defended their independence against the 
Visigoths and Franks. Toward the middle of the sixth century, they 
made an irruption into Gaul, and settled in a portion of Novempopu- 


lama., which, received from them the name of Gascony. At the close 
of the following century, King Eudes, either by victories or treaties, 
annexed it to Aquitaine, and the two peoples formed but one at the 
time when Eudes, attacked by the Saracens, gained a great victory 
over them on the plains of Toulouse. He defeated them a second 
time, but, being beset by new legions of enemies, he purchased a 
peace of one of their generals of the name of Munuza,* by giving 
him in marriage his daughter Lampagia. Munuza went away, and 
soon after perished in a civil war against Abd-ul Brahman, Yali, or 
chief, of the Mussulmans in Spain : his wife, daughter of King* 
Eucles, fell into the power of the victor, who, in his turn, invaded 

Eudes was still carrying on the war in the north of his states, 
against the invincible Charles, chief of the Franks, when he was 
menaced in the south by the enemies of all the Christians : he saw 
his army destroyed by the Mussulmans before Bordeaux, that city 
burnt, Aquitaine pillaged, and its inhabitants massacred. Feeling that 
he was too weak to contend against all these foes, and constrained to 
submit either to the Franks or Arabs, his religion dictated his choice. 
He proceeded as a fugitive to the martial court of Charles, recognized 
him as his suzerain, and obtained at this price the help of the Franks. 
Charles made a warlike appeal to all the warriors of Neustria, 
Austrasia, and Western Germany; and the formidable army thus 
raised encountered that of Abd-ul Rahman, in October, 732, on the 
plains of Poitiers. The destinies of the human race were about to be 
staked on this famous field : the army of the Franks was the sole 
barrier capable of arresting the Mohammedan invasion, and it was 
soon to be known whether the world would become Mussulman or 

For seven days the two armies observed each other without fighting. 
At last, the Mussulmans, whose number the chroniclers estimate 
at several hundred thousand, deployed on the plain ; and, on a signal 
from Abd-ul Rahman, his light cavalry commenced the action with 
a cloud of arrows, and dashed like a whirlwind on the army of 
the Franks. The latter, motionless on their powerful horses, and 

* The Arabic name of this famous chief was Ebn Abinruca ; according to others, 
Abi Nessa. 


defended by their heavy armour, for a long time opposed a wall of 
iron to the repeated charges of the Saracens, and remained firm in 
close and serried masses. All at once, the battle-cry was raised in the 
rear of the Arab army; it was the cry of King Eudes and the 
Aquitanians, who had turned the enemy's flank, and had fired his 
camp. A portion of the immense army of Abd-ul Rahman faced the 
Aquitanians, and disorder, the effect of surprise, opened the ranks of the 
Arabs. Charles, in his turn, gave the signal : the wall of iron broke, 
the heavy masses of Germans fell on Abd-ul Rahman's squadrons, 
and the war- axe and broad- swords of the Franks cropped down entire 
ranks. Abd-ul Rahman, vainly endeavouring to rally his soldiers, fell, 
in the midst of his picked troops, pierced with lances, and crushed 
beneath the horses' hoofs. The Arabs sought a refuge in their ravaged 
camp. Night having set in, Charles arrested the pursuit ; and on the 
morrow, at daybreak, the Franks saw, in the distance, only a blood- 
stained plain covered with corpses : darkness had protected the retreat 
of the Mussulmans, and the Christian cause was gained. 

The Arabs evacuated Aquitaine after their disastrous defeat at 
Poitiers ; and this day, for ever memorable, on which it was said that 
Charles had hammered the Saracens, gained him the glorious surname 
of Martel, which posterity has retained. 

One of the results of this famous campaign was to restore the 
great province, or kingdom, of Aquitaine and Grascony to the mon- 
archy of the Franks by the oath of vassalage which King Eudes 
had made to his liberator.* But in delivering the southern provinces 
from Mohammedanism, Charles neither saved them from pillage, nor 
arson, nor massacre : devastation marked the passage of his army, and 
sullied his victory, for which the Aquitanians did not feel grateful to 
him; and a profound enmity subsisted between the more civilized 
nations of the south and the northern barbarians. Charles Martel 
turned his arms against several tribes of Ganl that had ceased to obey 
the unworthy successors of Clovis.. He subjugated the Burgundians, 
penetrated into Septimania, and, bj the capture of two famous cities, 

* Several chronicles, among others the Annahs du Metz, say that Charles returned 
home after subjugating Aquitaine, that is to say, that Eudes fulfilled the engagements 
imposed on him by his oath, and doubtless renounced the title of king, the sign of his 
past independence, and only bore that of Duke of the Aquitanians. See Hist, de France^ 
by Henrr Martin, years 732, 733. 


Aries and Marseilles, completed the subjugation of Provence to the 
monarchy of the Franks. 

Under his government the perpetual progress of the clergy in power 
and wealth was arrested, or, more correctly speaking, suspended, in Gaul. 
The army constituted the sole strength of Charles ; and, in order to 
attach it better to him, he ventured to seize the estates of the Church, 
and distribute them among his warriors. He did not assume the 
name of king, but he appointed no successor to Thierry IV., son of 
Dagobert III., whom he had crowned upon the death of Chilperic II. 
His most dangerous enemies were the Frisons, Allemans, and Saxons, 
who were constantly attracted to the Rhine by the success of the 
previous invasions. Charles succeeded in driving them back by 
sanguinary and repeated expeditions, and restraining them by the 
terror of his name. Death surprised him in 741, when he was under- 
taking an expedition into Italy, to succour the Pope against the 
Lombards ; but, before expiring, he divided his authority between his 
three sons, Pepin, Carloman, and Griffo. 

Pepin and Carloman dispossessed their brother, and divided the 
paternal heritage between them; but they soon saw that Charles 
Martel had not handed down to them with his power the prestige 
attaching to his formidable name ; and, in order to support their 
authority, they drew from the monastery the last of the Merovingians, 
who was proclaimed King of the Franks, by the name of Childeric III. 
The two brothers then contended successfully against the Allemans, 
the Bavarians, the Saxons, and Aquitanians. Carloman soon felt a 
disgust of terrestrial grandeur ; he became a monk, and entered the 
monastery of Mont Cassin. Pepin, under the title of Mayor of the 
Palace, remained sole master of the Frank monarchy. He maintained 
at this period intimate relations with the Holy See, and gained its 
gratitude by offering to defend it against the Lombards, and favouring 
with all his power the success of the missions sent by the Pope into 
Saxony and Frisia, to convert these still pagan and savage countries 
to Christianity. At length he grew weary of reigning without sceptre 
and crown on the steps of the throne ; and, having asked the Pope 
for the title of king, he obtained it, and was crowned in 752 by St. 
Boniface, the apostle of Germany. He then assembled the general 
comitia at Soissons, and, relying on his own power, the name of his 


ancestors, and the Papal sanction, he was elected King of the Franks. 
Childeric returned to his cloister, which his race never left again ; 
and Pepin founded a second royal dynasty, which was called the 
Carlovingian, after his father's name. 

The power of the Merovingian kings had attained its apogee under 
Dagobert I. The Frank Empire had at that time for its boundaries 
the German Ocean, the Atlantic, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, 
the Adriatic, the Upper Danube, and the Rhine. The various nations 
inhabiting this vast territory recognized the authority of the Mero- 
vingian kings, some as being directly subject to them, others as 

The imperial divisions into provinces only existed in the ecclesi- 
astical order. For this ancient partition of the territory new divisions 
had been substituted, determined by the successive conquests of the 
barbarians, and the good pleasure of their chiefs, and which nearly all 
have ethnographical denominations, that is to say, borrowed from the 
different nations that had conquered the soil, or occupied it, such as 
Frisia, Burgundy, Gothia, Yascony, &c. Some, however, derived 
their name either from the astronomical or geographical situation of 
the country, as we have seen in the case of Neustria and Austrasia ; or 
from the configuration of the soil, like Champagne (country of plains). 
Provence (Provincia) and Aquitaine (Aqruitania) alone retained their 
Roman names. 

The great divisions of the Frank Empire directly subject to the 
Merovingian princes, were — Neustria (the country of the West) and 
Austrasia (country of the East), whose limits, as already described, 
varied but slightly during the whole existence of the dynasty ; Bur- 
gundy, which also comprised Provence, and extended from the southern 
frontier of Austrasia as far as the Cevennes, the Mediterranean, and 
the Alps ; and Aquitaine, enclosed between the Atlantic, the Loire, and 
the Garonne. Dagobert ceded this great province to his brother 
Caribert, and after him to his two sons, in order that it might be held 
by them and their descendants, with the title of a duchy. , Aquitaine 
thus remained for a long time excluded frcm the states which dimly 
recognized the authority of the Merovingian kings or of the mayors 
of the palace. 

Round these great states were others governed by separate chiefs, 




wlio frequently gave the Frank kings no other sign of submission 
beyond a' slight tribute. These countries were — to the north of 
Austrasia, between the Rhine and the Weser, Frisia and Thuringia ; 
to the east, Allemania and Bavaria; and to the west of Neustria, 

Two countries to the south of Aquitaine still contended for inde- 
pendence : they were Sejptimania (Narbonensis Prima), covered with 
fortified places, and which, defended by its geographical situation 
between the Rhone, the sea, and the Pyrenees, could not be torn from 
the Yisigoths ; and Vasconia or Qascony. This country, which occupied 
a portion of JSTovenipopulania (Lower Languedoc), again formed, on 
the death of Eudes, a nearly independent state, which sustained, as we 
shall see in the reigns of the * descendants of that prince, long wars 
against Pepin and Charlemagne. 

The territory subject to the Merovingians was divided, as concerns 
the administration, into duchies and counties, whose limits were more 
or less extended according to the will of these princes. The dukes 
and counts nominated by them were their principal military and civil 
officers. These were the Dukes of Auvergne, Aquitaine, Touraine, 
Poitou, Burgundy, Provence, &c. The counts were intrusted with 
the government of the old municipal cities, and also with the admi- 
nistration of the paoi, or districts forming their territories. The 
subdivision of the counties into hundreds, or tithings, ' dates from the 
sixth century. Bodies of one hundred and of ten families were 
certainly formed under the authority of a civil and military officer ; 
but the regular organization of hundreds and tithings was only in- 
troduced under the Carlo vingians. 

The Church alone retained the old Roman division into provinces 
and cities much as the Empire had formed them. An ecclesiastical 
province corresponded with each of the seventeen civil provinces. 
Each old metropolis was the see of an archbishop, and the one 
hundred and twenty cities or territorial districts were so many 
dioceses. In the fifth century the Yiennaise had been divided into 
two provinces, that of Yienne and that of Aries. The number of 
archbishoprics was thus raised to eighteen. These ecclesiastical 
divisions of old Graul existed, with but slight modifications, up to the 
fourteenth century. 



Genealogical Table op the Merovingian Kings. 

Clodion, 428-448 

Merovic, 448-458 

Childeric I., 458-481 

Clovis I., 481-511 

Thierry I. , 

King of Austrasia, 


Theodebert I., 





King of Orleans, 


Childebert I., 

King of Paris, 


Clothair I. , 

King of Soissons, 

Caribert I., Gontran, Sigebert, Chijperic L, 

King of Paris, King of Burgundy, King of Metz, King of Soissons 
561-567. ' 561-593. 561-575. 561-584. 

Childebert II., 

King of Austrasia 

and Burgundy, 


Theodebert II., 

King of Austrasia, 


Thierry II., 

King of Burgundy, 


Clothair II., 

King of Soissons, 

then sole King, 


Dagobert I., 

King of Austrasia (628), 

sole King 631-638. 

Caribert II., 

King of Aquitaine, 


Sigebert II. , 
King of Austrasia, 

Dagobert II., 

King of Austrasia, 


Clovis II., 

King of Neustria 

and of Burgundy, 

then sole King, 



Clovis II., 

King of Neustria, 

and of Burgundy, 

then sole King, 


Clothair III., 

King of Neustria, 


Childeric II., 

King of Austrasia, 

then sole King, 


Thierry III., 
sole King, 

Ohilperic II., 


Childeric III., 


Last Merovingian King. 

Clovis III., 

Childehert III. 

Dagobert III., 

Thierry IV., 


His death was followed by an interregnum of five years, after 
which Childeric III. was crowned. 







The race of Pepin the Short and Charlemagne, before commencing 
the second French dynasty, had been for more than 150 years in 
possession of everything that attracts and merits human respect. It 
was distinguished by illustrious birth, and the triple lustre of great 
services, virtues, and the most exalted dignities. Several of its 
members had occupied, with glory, the episcopal see of Metz, and 
were canonized, and we have seen Austrasia growing in power under 
the two great ancestors of this family, Pepin the Old or of Landen, 
and Pepin of Heristal. Their services were surpassed by the great 
deeds of Charles Martel, the vanquisher of the Mussulmans, who 
transmitted his name to all his descendants, and whose son, celebrated 
in history by the name of Pepin the Short, was the first king of his 

Pepin was the first to grant the Pontiff of Rome the right of dis- 
posing of crowns. The Lombards at that time possessed the whole 
northern part of Italy, and there King Astolph was contesting with 
Pope Zachariah the government of the city of Rome. Zachariah 


required a powerful supporter, and, counting on the help of Pepin if 
he could render him favourable to his cause, he declared that the throne 
belonged to the man who performed the duties of king, even though 
he did not occupy it. The most respected authority at the time was 
that of the Church: and Pepin, feeling the necessity of giving an 
imposing sanction to his usurpation, received for his coronation the 
ceremonies employed at that of the Jewish kings. This example was 
followed by his successors. 

Stephen II. succeeded Zachariah as Pope. Menaced by ihe Lombards, 
he went to Pepin and implored his support. The King treated him 
with the greatest honours, and the Pontiff consecrated him a second 
time, with his two sons, Charles and Carloman. In the sermon which 
Stephen preached on this occasion, he implored the Franks never to 
elect a king from any other family but that of Pepin, and excommu- 
nicated those who might be tempted to do so. From this time the 
papal power daily made rapid progress. The Popes soon believed 
themselves masters of the world : they demanded the obedience of 
the sovereigns whom they crowned and deposed according to their 
caprices ; and streams of blood were'shed in supporting or combating 
their arrogant claims. 

Stephen had implored Pepin's assistance against Astolph, King of 
the Lombards. The Frank monarch collected an army, led it to Italy, 
was victorious, and ceded to the Pope the Exarchate of Ravenna.* 

Pepin successfully waged long and sanguinary wars with the Bre- 
tons, Saxons, Saracens, and Aquitanians. The latter, more especially, 
offered him a furious resistance. Their vast province, as we have 
seen, had been several times detached from the monarchy of the Franks. 
The families of the conquerors who settled there had adopted the 
manners and language of the population, who were of Gallic or Roman 
origin, and spoke a corrupt Latin. The Aquitanians, more civilized 
than the Franks, ever detested the latter as barbarians. The revolution 
which, by elevating the Carlovingians, had surrounded the throne 
with new Austrasian or Germanic bands, gave their government, in 

* The name of Exarchate had been given to this territory because Ravenna was for a 
long time the residence of the exarchs or viceroys of Italy. The celebrated Pentapolis 
(five cities), composed of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Smigaglia, and Amona, formed part of 
the exarchate. 


the eyes of the Aquitanians, an even more savage ^appearance, and 
redoubled the horror with which it inspired them. 

Still, after the defeat of the Saracens at Poitiers, Duke Eudes 
remained at peace with Charles Martel, whose suzerainty he had 
recognized. He died in 735, leaving Aquitaine to his elder son 
Hunald, and Gascony to his second son Otton. Hunald despoiled his 
brother of the greater part of his states, and resolved to rend the 
bonds that subjected him to the Kings of the Franks. He, therefore, 
waged war against Carloman and Pepin, the sons of Charles Martel, 
with the greater energy because he was a Merovingian, and regarded 
them as usurpers of the rights of his family. In 745, however, when 
Pepin invaded Aquitaine at the head of a formidable army, Hunald 
ostensibly submitted, laid down his arms, and swore fidelity to the 
Frank kings. This humiliation to the enemies of his race concealed 
other thoughts, which were aroused in him. either through the decline 
of his strength, or the pride and hope which he had in his son Guaifer. 
This young prince possessed all the qualities that constitute a hero, 
and Hunald saw in him the only man capable of defending Aquitaine 
against the Franks. He resolved to abdicate, and, after placing 
Aquitaine in the valiant hands of his son, he bade him farewell, put 
on a monk's robe, and shut himself up in the monastery of the Isle of 
Re, where his father Eudes lay interred. 

The war was suspended for several years between Gruaifer and 
Pepin : both observed each other and collected their forces before 
attacking. Gruaifer had opened his states to Greffo, Pepin's brother, 
who had rebelled against him, but he only kept him a short time. The 
war between the Franks and Lombards was still going on. Greflb 
resolved to go to Italy and join King Astolph ; he left Guaifer and 
perished on his journey. Pepin, after bringing the Italian war to a 
successful end, resolved to conquer Septimania, before attacking the 
son of Hunald. He subjected that country, which was weary of the 
Saracen yoke, recaptured Narbonne, and annexed the whole province 
to the Frank monarchy, after which he invaded Aquitaine. Then 
commenced a nine years' war, marked by frightfcd devastations. Pepin 
ravaged Berri, Auvergne, and the Limousin with fire : Guaifer requited 
it by ravages on the Franks ; but, at last, having lost Clermont, 
Bourges, and his principal towns, he levelled the walls of all the 


others. He perished soon after, assassinated by his countrymen. 
With him the name of Merovingians became extinct in history, and 
the grand- duchy of Aquitaine was again attached to the crown of the 

Pepin bestowed great largesse on the clergy, and through his whole 
life displayed the greatest deference to them. He frequently assembled 
the comitia of the kingdom, to which he always summoned the 
bishops, seeking to interest them in the success of his enterprises. 
He was of short stature, whence his sobriquet : but is said to have 
possessed great courage and prodigious strength. History gives us an 
instance which should perhaps be placed amid fables, but which, at 
any rate, depicts the manners of this barbarous age. Combats of wild 
animals were the chief amusement at the court of the Frank kings. 
Pepin was present at one of these, in which a lion attacked a bull. 
The latter was all but defeated, when Pepin pointed to the savage com- 
batants, and shouted to the members of his suite, " Which of you will 
dare to separate them?" No one answered. Pepin leaped into the 
arena and cut off the heads of the animals. " Well," he said to his 
lords, as he threw away his blood- dripping sword, " am I worthy to be 
your king ? " In truth, it was sufficient at that day to be brave and 
strong in order to merit the throne. Pepin combined with these two 
qualities moderation and prudence. He asked the advice of his nobles 
in dividing his estates between his two sons Charles and Carloman, 
and died in 768, after a reign of seventeen years. 

The assembly of nobles and bishops had recognized Charles as king 
of the west, and Carloman as king of the east. 

The first expedition of the two brothers was directed, by mutual 
agreement, against Aquitaine, where an insurrection had been brought 
about by the aged Hunald, who, to avenge his son Guaifer, emerged 
from the monastery in which he had lived for twenty- three years. 
His efforts were powerless, and Hunald, betrayed and conquered,, 
sought refuge with the King of the Lombards. 

Ambition soon armed Charles and Carloman against each other. 
The death of the latter, which event took place in 770, stifled the 
germs of civil war, and Charles usurped the states of his brother, to 
the prejudice of his nephews. The latter, with their mother, found 
an asylum in Lombardy. The whole nation of the Franks from this 

752-814.] . CHAELEMAGNE. 89 

moment recognized the authority of Charles, for whom his victories 
and great qualities acquired the glorious surname of Great or Magnus, 
and who is only known in history by the name of Charlemagne. 



Dueing a reign of forty-six years this prince extended his frontiers 
beyond the Danube, imposed tribute on the barbarian nations, as far 
as the Vistula, conquered a portion of Italy, and rendered himself for- 
midable to the Saracens. He first went into Italy, on the entreaty of 
Pope Adrian I., and marched to assist him against Didier, King of the 
Lombards, whose daughter he had himself married and repudiated. 
He made this king a prisoner, and put an end to the Lombard rule in 
Italy, which had lasted for two hundred and six years. Arigisus, son- 
in-law of King Didier, continued, however, to defend himself in his 
duchy of Benevent. Charlemagne, during this expedition, went to 
Rome, where he humbly presented himself to the Pope, whom he had 
saved, kissing each step of the pontifical palace. He believed himself 
called to subject to Christianity the barbarous nations of Europe, and 
when persuasion did not avail to the triumph of the faith, he had 
recourse to conquest and punishments. 

The Saxons formed at this period a considerable nation, divided 
into a multitude of small republics. They were idolators, like the 
northern tribes. Their colonies had possessed England for a long time 
past, and had formerly also subjugated some districts in northern 
Gaul. Their assemblies were held annually on the banks of the 
Weser. At one of these, in 771, a priest of the name of Libuin 
invited them to be converted, while threatening them with a great 
king of the west. The Saxons took no heed of his words, and wanted 
to massacre him : they burnt the church of Daventer and all the 
Christians in it. Charlemagne heard of this and marched against 
them. A great man of the name of Wittikind commanded their army, 
but his heroism was of no avail. The Saxons were conquered and 
subjected. Charlemagne, after putting down several revolts, held a 
celebrated assembly at Paderborn, where he obliged all the Saxons to 
receive baptism, and divided their principalities among abbots and 

90 CHARLEMAGNE. [Book IL Chap. I. 

bishops. Hence dates the origin of the ecclesiastical principalities in 
Germany. Wittikind took refnge with a northern king. 

After conquering the Saxons, Charlemagne turned his arms against 
the Saracens. This people, in subjecting Spain, had taken to that 
country civilization and learning. Civil wars began, in the eighth 
century, to shake their power there. The Mussulmans were divided 
between the family of the Abassides, who resided at Bagdad, and that 
of the Ommiades, who governed Spain. The latter country, how- 
ever, was agitated by factions, and one of them entreated the aid of 
Charlemagne against Abd-ul-Rahman, lieutenant of the Caliph Om- 
miades. This great man seized the opportunity which was offered 
him of driving back Islamism beyond the Ebro, and thus extinguish- 
ing a formidable focus of troubles and revolts on his own frontiers : 
he therefore sent two powerful armies into Spain. Saragossa was the 
point selected for their junction ; for the Arab Emir who commanded 
that place had promised to surrender it to the Frank monarch. 
Charlemagne's expectations were deceived : Saragossa did not open its 
gates, and was besieged to no effect. The whole province, on which he 
had reckoned to help him, rose against him. The principal object of 
this famous expedition proved a failure : other cares, moreover, 
recalled Charlemagne, and he ordered a retreat. The defiles of the 
mountains were held at the time by the Basque nation, who resided in 
Vasconia, a country governed by Duke Wolf IL, son of Guaifer, and 
grandson of Hunald. This prince had inherited the hatred of his 
race for the family of Charlemagne, and when he saw the Frank army, 
on its retreat, entangled in the defiles of Bonce svalles, he had it 
attacked by his mountaineers, who rolled stones and rocks down on it. 
The disaster was immense : the rearguard was destroyed to the last 
man ; and here, too, perished the famous Paladin Boland, who is hardly 
known in history, and so celebrated in the romances of chivalry. 

Charlemagne completed, in the following year, the conquest of 
Saxony, which had again revolted and defeated his lieutenants. He 
subjected it once again in 782, and, in order to keep it in check by a 
terrible example, he beheaded, on the banks of the Aller, four thousand 
five hundred Saxon prisoners. This cruel deed exasperated their 
countrymen. "Wittikind had reappeared among them ; they were twice 
defeated and cut to pieces at Detmold, near Osnaburg, and remained 

752-814.] CHARLEMAGNE. 91 

quiet for several years. Wittikind laid down his arms in 785, and 
proceeded to Attigny-sur- Seine to do homage to the King of the 

The Frisons, the Bretons of Armorica, and the Bavarians next 
revolted: they attacked Charlemagne simultaneously, and tried his 
power. Tassillon, Duke of Bavaria, was son-in-law of King Didier, 
and brother-in-law of Arigisus, Duke of Benevent. He summoned 
the Avarians and Sclavons to his assistance, and, in accordance with 
Arigisus, rose against the Franks : but he was conquered without a 
contest, accused of treason at the assembly of Ingelheim, condemned 
to death, and eventually confined in the monastery of Jumieges. The 
nationality of the Bavarians was destroyed, as that of the Lombards 
had been. The duchy of Benevent, protected by the mountains of 
the south, alone escaped the conqueror. 

Charles had given Aquitaine, with the royal title, to his son Louis, 
under the guardianship of William Shortnose, Duke of Toulouse. 
Three other great provinces were equally subject to the authority of 
the young king. They were — on the east, Septimania or Languedoc, 
conquered by Pepin the Short ; on the west, Nbvempopulania or Gas- 
cony ; and lastly, on the south, the marches of Spain. This name was 
given to the provinces conquered by the Franks beyond the Pyrenees 
They were divided into the march of Gotkia, which contained nearly 
the whole of Catalonia ; and the march of Gascony, which extended as 
far as the Ebro into Arragon and Navarre. The latter provinces had 
for their chiefs Saracen lords who, according to circumstances, obeyed 
in turn the Frank king and the Arabic sovereign. This vast kingdom 
of young Louis', bordered by the Loire, the Ebro, the Rhone, and the 
two seas, was attacked in 793 by the Saracen general Abd-ul-Malak, 
who defeated Duke William at the passage of the Orbrin, made a 
great carnage in the Christian army, and returned to Spain with 
immense booty. Charlemagne deferred taking his revenge : he was 
occupied with Church matters, the opinions of the faithful being 
divided at the time between the second Council of ISTicaea, which, in 
787, had ordered the adoration of images, and the Council'of Frank- 
furt, which condemned them in 497 as idolatry. Charlemagne ener- 
getically supported the decision of the last-named council, and defended 
it against the Pope in a treatise divided into four books, which were 

92 CHARLEMAGNE. [Book II. Chap. I. 

called the Caroline Books. Adrian, who adopted the opinion of 
the Council of Nicsea, however, avoided the expression of any view, 
and evaded the question in order not to offend his powerful pro- 

Charlemagne next turned his efforts against the Avarians, indefa- 
tigable horsemen inhabiting the marshes of Hungary. After several 
disastrous expeditions had been undertaken to subdue them, Pepin, his 
son, penetrated into their country at the head of a Lombardese and 
Bavarian army, and seized their famous fortified camp called Buy, in 
which they had collected for a number of years the spoils of the East. 
Pepin carried them off, and his father distributed them among his 
favourites and the nobles of his court. 

The Saxons had joined the Avarians in this war ; they had burnt 
the churches, murdered the priests, and returned in crowds to their 
false gods. Charlemagne then adopted against them a system of 
extermination ; he established himself with an army on the Weser, 
ravaged Saxony with fire and sword, carried off a large number of 
the inhabitants, either as prisoners or hostages, and transported them 
to the western and southern countries. But the Saxons were not finally 
subdued till the year 804, after thirty-two years of fighting, revolt, 
and massacres. Charlemagne, in order to watch and restrain them 
the better, transferred his usual residence to Aix-la-Chapelle, which he 
made the capital of his empire. 

Leon III. succeeded Adrian I. in 795 upon the pontifical throne. 
Priests conspired to drag him off it. Wounded and imprisoned by them, 
he escaped and fled to Spoleto, where he implored the help of Charle- 
magne, who made a last journey to Italy for the purpose of restoring 
Leon his crown. Charles, on Christmas day, was on his knees and 
praying in the Cathedral of St. Peter : the Pope went up to him and 
placed the imperial crown upon his head. The people straightway 
saluted him with the name of Augustus ; and from this moment 
Charlemagne regarded himself as the real successor of the Roman 
Emperors of the West. He adopted the titles and ceremonials of the 
court of Byzantium, with which he kept up regular relations, and, in 
order to establish the empire in its integrity, the only thing remaining 
was for him to espouse the Empress Irene, who, after having her son 
assassinated, was reigning at Constantinople. Such was Charlemagne's 

752-814.] CHARLEMAGNE. 93 

wish, but he was unable to accomplish it, for Irene was dethroned and 
died in exile. 

Charlemagne, after his coronation as Emperor, had but insignificant 
wars to wage, and on attaining the supreme dignity, he also reached 
the end of his most difficult enterprises. He received in his palace at 
Aix-la-Chapelle the homage of the independent princes of the Veneli 
and Dalmatians, who ruled at the other extremity of Europe ; and 
such was the ascendency of his name and fortune that he saw several 
nations voluntarily range themselves under his laws. 

During the last eight years of his reign he promulgated decrees and 
instituted numerous administrative, ecclesiastical, judicial, and military 
institutions, which were all intended to strengthen the social order, 
and maintain all parts of his immense empire in union and peace. He 
convened, at the field of Mars, in the year 806, an assembly of the 
nobles of his kingdom, in order to arrange with them the partition of 
his states between his three sons, Charles, Pepin, and Louis. To the 
first he assigned the northern part of Gaul with Germany ; to the 
second he gave Italy and Bavaria with his conquests in Pannonia ; the 
third had Aquitaine, Burgundy, and the marches of Spain. This 
division, consented to by the nobles and the people, was sanctioned by 
the Pope. 

The last years of Charlemagne were saddened by domestic sorrows. 
He had to blush at the irregularities of his daughters, and lamented the 
death of his two eldest sons, Charles and Pepin. The first left no 
children, the second had a son, Bernard, to whom the Emperor granted 
the kingdom of Italy. He next wished to have the last of his 
legitimate sons, whom death had spared, Louis, King of Aquitaine, 
recognized as his successor, and summoned him to the great Sep- 
tember assembly at Aix-la-Chapelle. There he presented his son to 
the bishops, abbots, counts, and lords of the Franks, and asked them 
to recognize him as emperor. All consented. Then, desirous that his 
son's power should devolve on him from God Himself, he laid on the 
altar a crown resembling his own, and after giving Louis an affecting 
exhortation about his duties to the Church, his subjects, and relatives, 
he ordered him to take up the crown and place it on bis brow. 

Charlemagne was attaining the close of his glorious career. He 
devoted the last months of his life to devotional works, and divided 

94 CHAKLEMAGNE. [Book II. Chap. I. 

his time between prayer, the distribution of alms, and the study of 
versions of the Gospels in different languages. He directed this task 
up to the eve of his death. He was attacked by fever toward the 
middle of January, 814. He languished for some days ; then, feeling 
death at hand, he received the sacraments at the hands of Hildebald, 
his chaplain, and, arranging his limbs for the eternal rest, he closed 
his eyes, repeating, in a low voice, " In manus tuas commendo spiriturn 
meum" and expired. He had entered into his seventy- second year: 
he had reigned for forty- seven years over the Franks, forty- three over 
the Lombards, and fourteen over the Empire of the West. He was 
interred at Aix-la-Chapelle, in the Church of St. Mary, which he built. 

The exploits and conquests of this great monarch, too often 
stamped with the barbarism of the age, are not his greatest titles 
to the admiration and respect of posterity. What really elevates 
him above his age, is the legislative spirit, and the genius of civiliza- 
tion, both of which he possessed in an eminent degree. Charlemagne 
undertook to substitute order for anarchy, learning for ignorance, in 
the vast countries that obeyed him, and to subject to the laws and a 
regular administration, so many nations, still savage, strangers to 
each other, differing in origin, language, and manners, and with no 
other link among them than that of conquest. 

The principal and permanent division which he established in his 
empire was the county, a division generally responding to the old 
Roman districts called cities. The counts or principal officers 
of the state, held all the ^ civil, judicial, and military attributes. 
Below them were the hundredmen, also called viquiers, or vicars ; they 
were called liundredmen, because their authority extended over a 
canton, or territory originally occupied by one hundred families. The 
Emperor had the permanent officers and magistrates watched by a 
certain number of high functionaries, called royal envoys or missi 
dominici, who corresponded directly with him ; they were intrusted 
with the duty of inspecting the various counties, and presiding over 
the provincial assemblies. 

In addition to these assemblies, at which local interests were dis- 
cussed, two great national assemblies were convened annually. These 
meetings, whose origin dated back to the old customs of Germany, 
had fallen into desuetude under the last Merovingian kings. They 

752-814.] CHARLEMAGNE. 95 

acquired a new authority on the accession of the second race, which 
was raised to the throne by the Austrasian armies, in which the 
Germanic element prevailed. These assemblies were almost sovereign 
after the reign of Charlemagne. But this prince was always able to 
direct them ; they were inspired with his genius, and generally 
restricted themselves to sanctioning his wishes. At this epoch they 
were, besides, but the shadow of the great malls, at which the great 
nation of the Franks formerly assembled. The influence of Gallo- 
Eoman civilization, the distances to be covered, and the inequality 
which was established among the conquerors themselves, modified the 
composition of these great assemblies, from which the public were 
soon excluded. " It was the custom," writes Archbishop Hincmar, " to 
hold two assemblies annually. The first took place in the spring. The 
general affairs of the kingdom were regulated at it ; and no event, 
unless it was an absolute necessity, caused any change in what had 
been settled. At this assembly came together all the nobles (majores) 
both ecclesiastics and laymen (dukes, counts, and bishops) : they 
formed decisions, and submitted them for adhesion to the members of 
fhe second class (minores — the vicars, hundredmen, and royal officers 
of inferior rank), irho were merely consulted." Hincmar goes on to 
tell us that " the other assembly, at which the general ^gifts of the 
kingdom were received, was solely composed of the most important 
members of the previous assembly, and the king's councillors. At it 
were discussed affairs for which it was necessary to make provision — 
war, truce, administrative measures, &c. At both these assemblies the 
king submitted for deliberation the articles of law, called capitula, 
which he had himself drawn up, with the inspiration of Grod, or which 
had been found necessary in the interval between the two assemblies. 
Messengers of the palace served as intermediators between the 
assembly and the prince ; still, if the members expressed the desire, 
the king would go to them, remain as long as they pleased, and they 
gave him their opinion on all sorts of matters in a most familiar way, 
questioning him, and recommending each to inform himself of all that 
was going on within and without the empire during the period before 
the next meeting." * 

* Epist. ad Proceres regu. pro instit. Carolomanni regis et de ordine palat. ex Ada- 
lardo. (Hincmar, Opera, Vol. II., pp. 201-205.) 


A part of tlie ordinances to which Hincmar alludes by the name of 
capitulars has been handed down to us, and, in spite of their confused 
language, they bear testimony to the wisdom of their author. His 
genius embraces everything. He provides with equal intelligence for 
the greatest interests of his people and the administration of his 
private domains. His chief attention is directed to the clergy, whom 
he provides for by tithes, in order to compensate them for the 
spoliations of Charles Martel. He prescribes to ecclesiastics subordi- 
nation, the obligation of self-instruction, the transmission of their 
learning to the people, the reformation of abuses, and a prohibition of 
appearing in arms and fighting. It was a small thing to make wise 
laws, but their execution had also to be provided for. Charlemagne 
succeeded in effecting this by means of his envoys. We have seen 
that they corresponded directly with the Emperor ; he was also 
informed of everything, and his authority acted simultaneously at 
each point of his vast estates. 

Charlemagne understood that the most efficacious method of civi- 
lizing a nation is by instructing it ; he consequently sought to restore 
a taste for letters and the arts. He encouraged the laborious tasks of 
the monks, who preserved the celebrated writings of antiquity by 
transcribing them ; he even obliged the princesses, his daughters, to 
occupy themselves in this task. He founded and supported schools in 
a multitude of places ; he frequently inspected them himself, and 
examined the pupils. He established one in his own palace ; and the 
following words, addressed by him to the young students who frequented 
it, have been recorded : — "Because you are rich, and sons of the first 
men in my kingdom, you believe that your birth and wealth are suffi- 
cient for you, and that you have no need of these studies, which would 
do you so much honour. You only think of dress, sport, and pleasure : 
but I swear to you I attach no weight to this nobility and this wealth 
which attract consideration to you ; and, if you do not recover most 
speedily by assiduous study the time you have lost in frivolities, you 
will never more obtain anything from Charles." 

He employed of preference in affairs of state those persons who 
were distinguished by their acquirements. A library had been formed 
by his care in his palace of Aix-la-Chapelle, and, during his meals, he 
had esteemed works read to him or conversed with learned men. His 

752-814] CHAELEMAGNE. 97 

secretary, Eginhard, who lias left us curious details about this reign, 
was one of the most learned men of his time ; and Charlemagne spared 
nothing to attract to his court men of letters and clever professors. 
Among those who enjoyed his favour, the most celebrated is the Saxon 
Alcuin, a prodigy of learning for the age in which he lived. 

The principal occupation of those who applied themselves at that 
time to letters was poetry, the study of grammar, theology, the 
Scriptures, and the Church Fathers. Interminable controversies were 
carried on about the honours which ought to be paid to images ; these 
disputes occasioned long wars in the East, and several times shook 
the throne of Constantinople. Geometry, astronomy, and medicine 
were cultivated, but charlatanism and superstition disfigured the two 
last sciences. Exalted men or scamps asserted that they could read the 
future by examining the planets ; and this false science, studied under 
the name of astrology, was long held in honour. People were beginning 
to occupy themselves with sculpture, painting, and goldsmith's work ; 
and among the fine arts architecture was cultivated. Charlemagne 
enriched his residence at Aix-la-Chapelle with precious marbles from 
Ravenna, and the spoils of several other Italian cities ; he also erected 
numerous buildings, and the vestiges of the edifices of that age display 
far more solidity than elegance in the processes of the art. 

Among the inventions of this century we must mention paper made 
of cotton, organs played by water, and Turkey carpets. Clocks with 
wheels also began to be known in the West ; the Caliph Tlarcun-al- 
Haschid, one of the greatest princes the Mussulmans ever had, sent a 
very remarkable and valuable one to Charlemagne. The Church 
chants contributed greatly to the solemnity of the service ; people 
went regularly to the divine office in the daytime, and some at night 
too. Charlemagne decided that the Gregorian Chant should be used 
in all the churches of his empire ; and the custom established in the 
eighth century of reckoning the years by the Christian era, or from 
the birth of the Saviour, became general in his reign. This prince, 
who was ignorant himself, but worthy, through his genius, of sharing 
in everything that was great and useful, seconded mental efforts of 
every description by his assiduous care, praise, and rewards. This 
was the way in which he employed his leisure between his martial 


98 CHARLEMAGNE. [Book II. Chap. I. 

In the Empire of Charlemagne a distinction must be drawn between 
the countries directly subject to the Emperor and administered by his 
counts, and those which were only tributary. The former alone con- 
stituted the Empire properly so called, whose limits were — to the 
north, the German Ocean and the Baltic, as far as the Island of Rugen ; 
to the west, the Atlantic, as far as the Pyrenees ; to the south, the 
course of the Ebro, the Mediterranean, from the mouth of the Ebro, 
in Spain, to that of the Garigliano, in Italy, and the Adriatic, up to 
the promontory of Dalmatia ; to the east, Croatia, the course of the 
Theiss, Moravia, Bohemia, a part of the Elbe, and a line which, 
starting from the angle which the latter now makes when turning 
westward, would run along the western shore of Rugen. 

The immense country comprised between these limits was adminis- 
tered by the free counts. We* must, however, except the Armorican 
peninsula or Brittany, which was only tributary, as well as the country 
of the Navarrese and Basques, situated between the Elbe and the 
Pyrenees ; the States of the Church, or Patrimony of St. Peter, 
governed by the Bishop of Rome ; Gaeta, Venice, and a certain 
number of maritime cities in Dalmatia, which were dependent on the 
Greek Empire of Constantinople. 

Along these frontiers was a number of tributary states more or less 
in a state of dependence on the Emperor. The principal nations were 
— in Italy, the Beneventines ; in Germany, several Sclavonic tribes on 
the banks of the Danube, the Elbe, and the Baltic, up to the Oder. 
The sceptre of Charlemagne also extended, in the Mediterranean, 
though not without perpetual and sanguinary conflicts, over the Ba- 
learic Islands, Corsica, and Sardinia. 

Charles Martel, Pepin, and Charlemagne, after taking into their 
own hands the mayoralties of ISTeustria and Austrasia, and overthrowing 
the hereditary Dukes of Aquitaine, Lombardy, Allemania, Tkuringia, 
Bavaria, and Frisia, subjected all the states of the Prank Empire to 
the same political organization. Charlemagne divided them, for 
administrative purposes, into legations and counties, which responded 
generally to the old territorial divisions of the Roman Empire into 
provinces and cities. These, however, were wont to vary according to 
circumstances, and the will of the prince. The legations, the adminis- 
tration of which Charlemagne entrusted to his missi or envoys, seem 

752-814] CHARLEMAGNE. 99 

to have been the origin of the principal duchies. The Emperor had 
received the direct administration of the countries between the Rhine 
and the Meuse, in which the ancient domains of his family were 

Some provinces upon the borders bore, as we have already stated, 
the name of Marches. They were — the "Western March (Austria) : 
the March of Oarinthia (the Duchy of Friseli), to which were 
attached all the countries to the south of the Drave, and the two 
Marches of Spain, Grothia and Grascony. 

In addition to the great divisions into legations, we have seen 
that Charlemagne established or reconstituted for his sons Louis 
and Pepin two kingdoms : that is, Italy, with the March of 
Carinthia and the Patrimony of St. Peter, and that of Aquitaine, 
with the Marches of Spain. Still, he kept the two kings in strict 
dependence ; and though they had a more pompous title and more 
extensive functions, they were in their states, like the missi in the 
legations, no more than the first lieutenants and representatives of the 

Pepin ceded to the Bishop of Rome the Exarchate of Ravenna and 
the Pentapolis : Charlemagne confirmed this gift. These two territories, 
joined to the city of Rome and the surrounding country, formed the. 
state temporally governed by the Pope, which retained the name of 
the Patrimony of St. Peter. Authors are not agreed as to the con- 
ditions on which this donation was made ; but the general opinion is 
that the Domain or Patrimony of St. Peter was considered, up to the 
reign of Louis the Debonnaire, a fief dependent on the Emperor. 

The Merovingian princes had laid the foundation of numerous cities 
in their states, and more especially in Neustria, where their principal 
residences were. The Carlovingian kings, their successors, made their 
most important foundations in Austrasia, and beyond the Rhine. 
Many cities owe their existence to Charlemagne, the best known 
among them being Halle, Hamburg, Deventes, Tugolstadt, andAix-la- 
Chapelle. The latter city, which he rendered flourishing in a few 
years, became his principal residence, and capital of his empire. He 
also founded several bishoprics, and numerous monasteries, most of 
which became, in the course of time, important towns. Many other 
cities were also embellished and enlarged by Charlemagne ; among 

ii 2 


others, Ingellieini and Nimeguen, where lie had two magnificent 
palaces, Metz, Mayence, Strasburg, Essenfeld, Paderborn, Ratisbon, 
and Magdeburg, which, being nearly all strongly fortified, served as a 
defence or barrier to his empire. 

Charlemagne kept his peoples united and under subjection by the 
ascendancy of his glory and the terror of his arms ; but for vast 
associations of men to subsist for any length of time with a common 
centre upon an immense territory, it is necessary either that the 
peoples should submit to an absolute authority, which was repulsive to 
the haughty and independent humour of the Frank race, or else that 
learning and civilization should have made sufficient progress for them 
to recognize the necessity for their union, as well as the obligation of 
sacrificing private to general interests. Such was not the state of the 
nations governed by Charlemagne. Some distinguished men raised 
their voices in vain : the masses remained plunged in barbarism. A 
few years do not suffice to make a people pass from a savage into a 
civilized state, from ignorance to learning. Such a task is one of ages. 
Charlemagne appeared to the world as a brilliant meteor, which, in 
disappearing, only leaves behind a reminiscence of its brilliancy, and 
the vivid light it shed around : but this reminiscence was not useless 
to the world, and the example which this great man gave bore its 
fruit among posterity. He himself, however, was able to observe the 
certain signs of an approaching dissolution. He knew the national. 
enmities which subsisted between the different nations he had sub- 
jected ; and the calmness which they had long enjoyed internally was 
not that of a nation reposing in its strength, but rather a ealm of 
weariness and exhaustion. His capitularies rendered military service; 
obligatory on every free man possessed of a meusa of land or twelve- 
acres, under penalty of paying the enormous fine of sixty pence im 
gold, or the loss of liberty : a great number preferred slavery. The 
greater portion of the crown lands had been given to nobles and 
bishops ; and the right of possession over the inhabitants being at that 
time confounded with the ownership of the soil, a multitude of 
labourers had fallen into a condition of serfdom. The free men them- 
selves, crushed by the weight of taxation and military service, and 
wearied with so long a reign, eagerly desired its termination. They 
only performed with repugnance their duty as citizens, and generally 

752-814] CHARLEMAGNE. 101 


neglected going to the provincial assemblies or those of the Field of 

The expenses of the journey, and the presents demanded of them, 
rightly appeared to them an intolerable burden ; and they displayed no 
zeal in supporting institutions, of which they recognized neither the 
wisdom nor the utility. 

Such were the imminent precursive signs of a rapid dissolution. 
Charlemagne's presentiments were only too fully justified toward the 
close of his life. New nations, that came from the north, the Danes, 
also called Normans, infested the coasts of his empire. In order to 
repulse them, he had large barques built, which defended the mouth of 
the rivers. This barrier, and the terror he inspired, sufficed during 
his lifetime to keep these barbarian invaders aloof. One day, however, 
ships, manned by Scandinavian pirates, unexpectedly entered the port 
of a town in Gallica ISTarbonensis, where the Emperor was residing. He 
saw them, and, going up to a window to watch their flight, he stood, 
there for a long time with his face bathed in tears. Then, turning to 
the nobles, who were watching him, he said to them, "Do you know, 
my faithful friends, why I am weeping so bitterly ? Assuredly I do 
not fear that these pirates will injure me, but I am profoundly 
afflicted by the thought that they nearly landed on these shores 
during my lifetime, and I am tortured by a violent grief, when I 
foresee all the evils they will inflict on my nephews and their peoples." 

The perpetual wars which Charlemagne waged in order to maintain 
the unity of his immense empire, and substitute in it civilization for 
barbarism, originated from his victories themselves : and they rather 
bear testimony to the greatness of his efforts than to their success. 
His work remained incomplete, but his glory consists in having under- 
taken it ; and if he did not complete it, it was because completing was 







Charlemagne's object had been to rescue Europe from the anarchical 
reign 6f brute force : he wished that his will should be everywhere 
present. "He applied himself," as a modern historian has said, "to 
render the exercise of power regular and salutary to the people ; * and 
he everywhere substituted his intelligent and central action for the 
action of a number of* blind and isolated local authorities, whom he 
held in check, without destroying. These powers derived their origin 
and force from old Germanic institutions and customs ; and these did 
not work in unison either to establish or maintain the unity of a vast 
Empire. Among these customs, three were quite incompatible with 
the principle of imperial authority, such as Charlemagne had 
attempted to re-establish in the West. They were, first, the legislative 
and, in some cases, sovereign power of the national assemblies ; next, 
the jurisdiction of the nobles over their vassals, and the right of 
private war ; and lastly, the custom which shared the succession 
among all the sons, and which, in default of sons, left the right of 
succession doubtful between the nephews and uncles. 

Charlemagne did not make any absolute attack on these three cus- 
toms, though they were so incompatible with the monarchical system 
which he attempted to introduce. We have seen that he recognized the 

* Gruizot, Histoire de la Civilisation en France. 


legislative authority of the national assemblies, and that the latter, 
which he directed and converted into useful instruments, were regularly- 
convoked during his reign ; he did not destroy the right of seignorial 
Jurisdiction, which was a formidable right, and one difficult to separate 
from the right of private war ; he was even constrained to confirm 
the latter, by obliging the vassals or liegemen to follow their lord in 
his private quarrels, under penalty of losing their benefices ; * and he 
could not prevent the duties of the vassal toward his lord appearing 
more sacred than those which attached them both to the State. 
Lastly, in the partition which Charlemagne made at Thionville, of his 
states among his sons, we do not find that he dreamed of maintaining 
the unity of his empire after his own death ; he did not raise the 
eldest above the others ; and, at a later date, when he shared his 
authority with Louis the Debonnaire, his two brothers were dead : 
hence, then, the great question of the supremacy attaching to the 
imperial title, and of the degree of power which the prince invested 
with it would have to exercise over the kings of his own family, was 
not settled by Charlemagne. Perhaps he had a foreboding that so 
many nations, differing in language, origin, and customs, could not live 
for any length of time, united under the same hand ; perhaps, too, by 
himself dividing his vast states between his sons, he had hoped to 
prevent disastrous wars, and he doubtless believed that it would be 
better to do by common agreement what time and violence would not 
fail to do after his death. 

If such were Charlemagne's previsions, they were speedily confirmed 
by the inutility of his son's efforts to retain for any length of time 
the fiction of imperial unity. The situation was more powerful than 
the men, and the Carlovingian Empire crumbled away less through the 
weakness of Louis the Debonnaire and his successors, than through the 
want of the institutions necessary for its duration, and, above all, by 
the impossibility of rendering the latter acceptable to the peoples they 
were intended to govern. The dissolution of this empire, accelerated 

* Et si quis cum fidelibus suis contra adversarium suum pugnam ant aliquod cutamen 
agere voluerit, et convocavit aliquem de coinparibus suis ut ei adjutorium prsebuisset, et 
e!le et exindo negliques permansit : ipsum beneficium quod babuit auferatur ab 
eo, et ditur cui in stabilitate et fidelitate su4 permansit.— -Karoli M. Capitularc > 
a. 813-820. 


by so many causes, had as its principal results the complete separation 
of the peoples of different race, and the subdivision of each of these 
peoples into a multitude of small principalities, which had no other 
bond of union than that which was established by the feudal regime. 

Louis I., surnamed the Debonnaire and the Pious, son and successor 
of Charlemagne, was soon crushed by the burden which his father had 
left him. Unskilful in his conduct, and of weak character, but 
animated by a desire for justice and a desire for the right, he hastened 
to order severe reforms ; and ere he had established his authority on a 
solid basis, he punished powerful culprits, and tried to destroy a mul- 
titude of abuses by which the nobles profited. The oppressed nations 
found in him a just judge and indulgent master. He protected the 
Aquitains, the Saxons, and Spanish Christians against the imperial 
lieutenants, and diminished their "taxes, to the injury of their governors. 
He reformed the clergy, by obliging the bishops to remain in their 
dioceses, and subjecting the monks to the inquisition of the severe 
Benedict of Amacia, who imposed the Benedictine rule upon them. 
Lastly, giving the example of good manners, he tried to avenge morality 
by disgracefully expelling from the imperial palace his father's 
numerous concubines, and the lovers of his sisters. But he could 
not keep either his court or his warriors in obedience, and his weakness 
for his wives and children occasioned long and sanguinary wars. 

In the hour of danger, all those whose interests he had violently 
injured leagued against him. The first insurrection took place in 
Italy. The Emperor had shared the empire with his son Lothair,* 
with the assent of the Franks assembled at the comitia of Aix-la- 
Chapelle in 817 ; then he gave the kingdoms of Bavaria and Aquitaine 
to his other two sons, Louis and Pepin : his nephew Bernard remaining 
King of Italy. The latter, whose father was the Emperor's elder 
brother, was jealous at the elevation of Lothair, for he hoped, after his 
uncle's death, to obtain the imperial crown as chief of the Carlovingian 
family. A great number of malcontent lords and bishops invited 
Bernard to assert his rights, and collected troops. Louis marched to 
meet his nephew at the head of his soldiers of France and Germany. 

*The second race adopted the names of the first, but the German language was 
beginning to lose its roughness in Graul : thus, the name of Klothair became Lothair, 
&c. &c. 


On his approach, Bernard, who was deserted by a portion of his fol- 
lowers, obtained a safe conduct from the Emperor, and went into his 
camp, with several chiefs of his army. Louis, impelled to act with 
unjust rigour by his consort Ermengarde, who coveted Italy for her 
sons, had Bernard's accomplices tried and executed, while the 
unfortunate King himself was condemned to lose his sight, and did not 
survive the punishment. A few years later, the Emperor, in a national 
assembly held at Attigny, on the Aisin, did public penance for this 
crime, and, prostrated at the feet of the bishops, asked for absolution. 
From this period he only displayed weakness. The frontier nations 
insulted the Empire with impunity ; the Gascons and Saracens in the 
south, the Bretons in the west, and the Norman pirates in the north, 
committed frightful ravages, and spread terror around them. Internal 
discord seconded their audacity : the imperial troops were defeated, and 
Louis saw his frontiers contracted in the north and south. In this way, 
the kingdom of Navarre was founded at the foot of the Pyrenees. 

Ermengarde, the wife of Louis the Debonnaire, died in 818, and 
the Emperor espoused in the following year Judith, daughter of a 
Bavarian lord. He had by her a son called Charles, for whom his 
mother asked a kingdom ; and Louis promised him one, although he 
had given everything away before. After granting to Lothair the 
kingdom of Italy, the heritage of the unfortunate Bernard, he 
obtained from that prince the oath to defend his young brother Charles, 
and maintain him in the possession of the share which might be 
assigned him ; after which, the Emperor, at the Diet of Worms, held 
in 829, gave Charles, the son of Judith, Suabia, Helvetia, and the 
Grisons, which he formed into the kingdom of Germany. 

Lothair soon repented the pledge he had given his father, and 
sought a mode of destroying the result of the decisions of the Diet. 
He found an opportunity, in the blind weakness of the Emperor for the 
Aquitanian Bernard, Duke of Septimania, and son of his old guar- 
dian, William Shortnose. Duke Bernard was generally considered the 
lover of Judith and father of Charles. Louis made him his sole coun- 
cillor and prime minister. The public clamour became general ; a 
numerous party of malcontents was formed, principally composed of 
nobles and bishops, and who were joined by the Emperor's three sons, 
who were irritated at his weakness and anxious about their possessions. 


The latter commenced an impious war against their father. He fell 
into their power at Compiegne. Judith was confined by them in a 
convent ; Bernard took to flight, and the Emperor was left under the 
direction of a few monks, while Lothair seized the government of the 

The peoples were divided between Louis and his sons ; the latter 
were supported in their revolt by the inhabitants of Gaul, while the 
Germans remained faithful to the Emperor, who consulted a general 
assembly of the states for the same year, at one of their cities, 
JSTimeguen. They pronounced in his favour and against his sons. 
Lothair was reconciled to his father by sacrificing all his partizans to 
him. Judith and Bernard were recalled to court, and purified them- 
selves by oath from the crimes imputed to them ; Louis began to 
reign again, and once more disgusted the nation by his weakness. His 
sons — Lothair, Louis, and Pepin — revolted once again, took up arms, 
and marched against their father. Pope Gregory IV. was with them, 
and tried in vain to prevent bloodshed. The two armies encountered 
near Colmar ; all at once the Emperor's troop sdeserfced him. The 
which this defection took place received the name of the Plain of 
plain on Falsehood. Th eunfortunate King fell into the hands of his 
son Lothair, who carried his impiety so far as to make him undergo 
an infamous punishment under the cloak of a Christian and voluntary 
humiliation, in order to degrade him for ever. A council of bishops 
devoted to Lothair was assembled for this purpose at Compiegne and 
presided over by Ebbon, Archbishop of Reims, a furious enemy of 
Louis. A list of crimes was drawn up, among which figured that of 
having ordered the army to march during Lent, and convoking the 
Parliament on a Good Friday. The captive Emperor was forced to 
make a public confession. He appeared in the cathedral, pale and 
bowed down by shame and sorrow. He tottered along through a multi- 
tude of spectators, and in the presence of Lothair, who had come to 
enjoy the humiliation of his father and his Emperor. A hair cloth was 
laid at the foot of the altar ; the archbishop ordered the sovereign to 
take off his imperial ornaments, belt, and sword, and prostrate himself 
on the cloth. Louis obeyed : with his face against the ground he 
demanded a public penance, and read aloud a document in which he 
accused himself of sacrilege and homicide. A proces-verbal was drawn 


up of this criminal scene, and Lothair conducted his father as a pri- 
soner to Aix-la-Chapelle, the seat of the Empire, a place which had 
formerly witnessed his grandeur and now his ignominy. 

Louis the German and Pepin declared themselves the avengers of 
their outraged father, far less through affection for him than through 
jealous hatred of their brother ; the latter, deserted by his partizans, 
took refuge in Italy, while the Emperor, with the assent of the states 
assembled at Thionville, resumed his crown. He pardoned Lothair, 
but in 838, at the states of Kersy-on-the-Oise, he for a second time 
benefited his son Charles at the expense of his elder brother, and Louis 
the German consented to cede a portion of his provinces to his 

Pepin, King of Aquitaine, died in the course of the year ; he left a 
son of the same name, dear to the Aquitains, who had seen him attain 
man's estate among them, and who eagerly recognized him as king. 
This people always endured with impatience a foreign rule. It nou- 
rished the hope of forming an independent and separate nation, and 
hoped to induce Pepin II. to revolt against the Emperor, as his father, 
Pepin I., had on several occasions been persuaded to do. 

The Emperor, however, had other projects ; he secretly reserved 
Aquitaine for his son Charles. On his side, Louis regretted the conces- 
sion which he had made at Kersy of the great portion of his states to 
his brother, and had taken up arms again ; the Germans had followed 
his banner to the right bank of the Rhine ; but the armies of Gaul, 
composed of a mixture of men of the Gallic and German races estab- 
lished for a long time in that country, and to whom we may henceforth 
give the name of French, had remained faithful to the Emperor. He 
crossed the Rhine at their head. On his approach the Germanic army 
disbanded without striking a blow : his son Louis retired into Bavaria. 
The Emperor punished him by reducing his inheritance to that soli- 
tary province. 

The moment had arrived to secure Charles the share which his affec- 
tion had always desired for him at the expense of his brothers. He 
resolved to divide the Empire, exclusive of Bavaria, into two parts of 
equal size, destined for Lothair and Charles, and decided that one of 
these princes should make this division, and the other have the choice. 
This new partition was to be sanctioned and proclaimed in a Diet con- 

108 LOUIS THE DEBON^ T AIEE. [Book II. Chap. II. 

voked at Worms in the month of May, 839. Lothair proceeded thither. 
In the presence of the assembled nobles, he threw himself at his 
father's feet and asked his pardon for the annoyance he had caused him. 
Then, having left to his father the task of dividing his Empire, the 
Emperor effected the partition by aline which, starting from the mouths 
of the Scheldt, ran along the Meuse up to its source, and the Saone as 
far as its confluence with the Rhone, and terminated at the mouth of 
the latter river. The choice was left to Lothair, who took the eastern 
moiety of the Empire, comprising Italy, Germany, less Bavaria, Pro- 
vence, and a small part of Burgundy and Austrasia ; Charles had for 
his share Aquitaine, Neustria, and the rest of Austrasia and Burgundy. 
The claims of their brother Louis were entirely passed over in this 
partition, and Pepin II., the Emperor's grandson, was despoiled. These 
two princes took up arms, and the Emperor, who was already ad- 
vancing upon Aquitaine, stopped in indecision, not knowing which foe 
to fight first, his grandson or his son. At length, on seeing the 
Bavarians, Thuringians, and Saxons, in insurrection on behalf of Louis, 
the old Emperor turned his army against him ; and he marched into 
Germany to encounter his son, who had rebelled for the third time, 
when he was attacked by an illness, which brought him to the grave 
at the end of forty days. "Alas ! " he said, while expiring, "I pardon 
my son ; but let him remember that he caused my death, and that God 
punishes parricides." He died at Ingelheim, at the age of sixty-two. 
Louis the Debonnaire was not born for the throne ; still, he had 
some of the qualities of a good prince. His morals were firm ; he paid 
great attention to the administration of justice and the instruction of 
his people, made useful regulations, and frequently consulted the 
comitia of the Empire ; but he possessed neither strength nor dignity, 
without which the supreme authority is but a vain word. His impru- 
dent weakness for Charles, the son of his old age, occasioned wars 
which were only extinguished with his race. In order to ensure him a 
vast empire, he embroiled all the frontiers of his states ; and this par- 
tition accelerated the outbreak of frightful calamities. 





After the death, of Louis the Debonnaire, the Empire was plunged 
for ten years into a horrible anarchy. His three sons and his grand- 
son, Pepin II., levied troops and carried on an obstinate war against 
each other. The Emperor Lothair united with his nephew Pepin to 
despoil his two brothers — Louis, who was called the German, and 
Charles II., who from this period was surnamed the 'Bald. The former 
only possessed Bavaria; the second w&s master of the whole of 
Germany. The deplorable situation of the Empire, thus parcelled out 
by different masters and torn by their hands, has been eloquently 
described by a contemporary poet : — " Who could worthily describe," 
he says, "the asylums of religious life overthrown, the holy spouses of 
the Lord surrendered to the infamy of the secular yoke, the very 
chiefs of the Church exposed to the perils of arms and carnage ? 
.... Once on a time flourished a noble empire, with a dazzling 
diadem ; it had but one prince, and a great people was subject to him. 

Now the proud edifice has fallen from its height, as crown of 

flowers falls from the brow which it decorated. ..... The unity of 

the empire has perished in a triple partition ; no one is longer con- 
sidered as emperor ; in lieu of a king there is only a weak prince ; 
instead of a kingdom the fragments of a kingdom. The wall is 
threatened with an immense and sudden ruin ; it is already cracked 
and bulging, and scarce supported by a liquid mud which is about to 
fall, and the overthrow is universal." * 

The combined armies of the two kings, Louis and Charles, encoun- 
tered those of the Emperor Lothair and his nephew Pepin near 
Auxerre, and fought a sanguinary engagement in the Plains of 
Fontenay ; it is said that one hundred thousand men perished on this 
day. Lothair was conquered, and the two victorious princes, who 
were themselves weaker than they had been before the victory, could 
not pursue him. They proceeded to Strasburg, where they resumed 
their alliance in the presence of the people. The oath which Louis the 

* Flori cTeaoni Lugdunensis Guertia de divisione imperii post mortem Ludov. Pii. 


German pronounced on this occasion in such a way as to be understood 
by his brother's Neustrian and Gallo-Roman army, is the oldest 
memorial history has preserved for us of the Romanic language.* 

A new partition was made soon after at Verdun between the three 
brothers, and irrevocably separated the interests of Gaul as a power 
from those of Germany. Charles had the countries situated to the 
west of the Scheldt, Saone, and Rhone, with the north of Spain up 
to the Ebro. Louis the German had Germany up to the Rhine. 
The Emperor Lothair, renouncing all supremacy, connected to Italy the 
territory situated between his brother's states. The long strip of 
land, which comprised four populations, and in which four different 
languages were spoken, formed an entirely factitious division, of such 
a nature that it could not be perpetuated. The two other divisions were 
more durable, and henceforth the denomination of France was employed 
to designate the kingdom of Charles, in which Neustria, Brittany, and 
Aquitaine were comprised. 

So many commotions and combats completely exhausted the 
kingdoms formed out of the debris of the empire. The little amount 
of strength left to them was consumed by these intestine wars, the 
frontiers were abandoned to foreigners, the land remained uncultivated, 
famine destroyed entire populations, and the ancient barbarism re- 
appeared. The Normans, united to the Bretons, in the north and west, 
the Saracens in the south, laid waste everything with fire and sword ; 
bands of wolves came after them down the mountains and even 
entered the towns. Rouen, Bordeaux, and Nantes were burnt ; the 
Normans reached Paris on board three hundred galleys ; and while 
terror kept Charles shut up at Saint Denis, they plundered the capital, 
and only left it to reappear there soon after more numerous aud formid- 
able. These men of the north, called Danes in England, and Normans 
in Gaul, had remained pagans, and were still proud, even in the ninth 
century, of their title as sons of Odin. Their natural ferocity was 
kept up and incessantly excited by a continual life of brigandage. 
A law of the country, which was maintained wherever this people 
founded establishments, tended to perpetuate on the coasts of 
Denmark and Norway the existence of this race of pirates. It was one 

* This language is composed of a corrupt Latin, mixed up with the idiom of some of 
the peoples of Frank Gaul. 


of the principal causes of the frightful evils which they inflicted from 
the ninth to the eleventh century on European nations ; and to it 
must be referred the first origin of the empires which these peoples 
founded. This law, which is still in force in England, gave to the 
eldest son alone in Denmark and Norway the patrimony of the family. 
It affected the families of the kings as well as those of the subjects. 
The eldest son of the chief or king alone inherited his father's sceptre 
and estates. His brothers, though recognized as kings by the customs 
of the northern nations, had the ocean as their kingdom, on which they 
sought their fortune : hence the name of sea-Mngs, which was given to 
them, and which collected under their banner a multitude of men, 
who, like themselves, had no other patrimony beyond their sword. 
One of these chiefs, who was famous for his audacity and ferocity, 
the pirate Hastings, after ravaging France, penetrated into Italy, and 
returned to spread desolation and terror on the whole country between 
the Seine and the Loire. Charles the Bald had intrusted the defence 
of this territory, with the title of Count of Anjou, to a celebrated 
warrior, Robert the Strong, who was already Count of Paris* and 
the glorious founder of the Capitian dynasty.* Robert, whom the 
chronicles of the time called the Maccabaeus of France, was killed, and 
nothing arrested the devastating torrent from that moment. 

In the midst of the general weakening of the Empire, the clergy 
alone increased their fortune and power. The more miserable the 
people were, the more they directed their thoughts to another future, 
and respected the men in whom they recognized the power of opening 
the gates of a better world for them. The real master of Graul was 
Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims. He it was who defended with the 
greatest success the authority of Charles the Bald, against those 
who jareferred to him his brother, Louis the Grerman. The 
bishops supported the kings they had crowned ; they governed 
temporal and spiritual affairs, war and peace ; it was Hincmar who 

* After long researches, intended to trace this family back to Childebrand, brother of 
Charles Martel, it is generally agreed that it was of Saxon origin, since genealogists 
even wish to give ib as founder the celebrated Wittikind. However this may be, this 
family, established in the centre of Graul, speedily acquired a great influence there, and 
was invested in succession with the counties of Paris a^d Orleans, the county of Anjou, 
the duchy of France, and several other great fiefs. The name of Capitians was not 
given to its members till after Hugues Capet. 


convoked, in the king's name, the bishops and counts to march against 
the enemy. 

The Emperor Lothair I. had died in a monastery in 855, after 
sharing the Empire for the last ten years with his son, Louis II., sur- 
named the Young, and giving kingdoms to his other sons, Provence to 
Charles, and the country contained between the Meuse, Scheldt, Rhine, 
and Franche Comte to Lothair II. It was called, after the name of 
its sovereign, Lotharingia, whence we have the name of Lorraine, 
which has adhered to it. The decrees of the councils touching the two 
marriages of Lothair II. occupied the whole of Christendom during 
fifteen years. Separated by mutual agreement from his wife, Tentberga, 
and forced to take her back by Pope Adrian II., Lothair went to Rome 
in order to justify himself. The Pontiff called down the vengeance 
of Heaven on him if he did not amend his ways. He died within a 
week, and the whole of his suite in the year. . His three sons 
survived him but a short time ; and Louis the Grerman and Charles the 
Bald divided their estates between them. 

Oil the death of the Emperor Louis II., which event took place in 
875, his uncle Charles the Bald seized the imperial crown ; but this 
crown, reduced to a part of Southern Germany and Italy, was, on his 
brow, but the shadow of that worn by Charlemagne. The Empire was 
exhausted ; the perpetual wars of Charlemagne, the incessantly renewed 
quarrels of his grandsons, had decimated the martial population during 
several generations. In the midst of the constantly increasing anarchy, 
the freemen, preferring security to an independence full of perils, 
made themselves the vassals of powerful men capable of defending 
them ; and so early as 847, the weak Charles the Bald allowed the 
edict to be drawn from him, known as the Edict of Mersen, to the 
effect that every freeman can choose a lord, either the king or one of 
his vassals, and that none of them would be bound to follow the king 
to war except against foreigners. The king thus remained powerless 
and disarmed in civil wars. 

Thirty years later, the nobles completed the ruin of imperial and 
royal authority by obtaining at Kersy from the same King, then 
Emperor, the celebrated decree which rendered it legal to inherit 
benefices and offices. For a long time past, the rights of property 
in the soil had been confounded with the rights of administration 


and jurisdiction possessed by the counts or officers of the Emperor. 
The counts, taking advantage of the general anarchy as well as of the 
ignorance and sloth of the sovereigns of the first and second races, had 
in the first place contrived to render their offices irrevocable, after 
the example of holders of benefices; then they transmitted them to 
their sons. But no law sanctioned this right of inheritance. Charles 
the Bald, by legalizing it, dealt the last blow to the authority of the 
sovereigns. This act of his reign has been bitterly reproved by most 
historians, but in accomplishing it, it is certain that he only yielded 
to circumstances, and involuntarily consummated a sacrifice which his 
situation imposed on him. Henceforth, it was not the king who chose 
the counts, but the counts disposed of the throne. The dismember- 
ment of the Empire was rapidly effected, and a new order of things, 
the feudal system, was the consequence of this edict — the last 
mportant act of the reign of Charles the Bald, who died in the 
same year (877) at a village on Mount Cenis. 

The last descendants of Charlemagne nearly all proved themselves, 
in weakness and nullity, the rivals of the last Merovingians. Louis II., 
called the Stammerer,* and successor of Charles the Bald in Italy 
and Gaul, lost in turn, through revolts, Italy, Brittany, Lorraine, and 
Gascony. He recognized the fact that he only owed his title to the 
election of the lords, bishops, and peoples. He allowed the nobles 
to fortify their mansions ; and during his two years' reign, Pope 
John VIII., expelled from Italy, came into France, and governed 
the kingdom. 

Louis the Stammerer left three sons, Louis, Carloman, and Charles. 
The first two were recognized as kings in 879 ; the elder, Louis III., 
reigned over the north of France, and Carloman over the south. 
These two princes lived on good terms ; but during their reign the 
Normans committed frightful ravages. At the same period, Duke 
Boson, brother-in-law of Charles the Bald, seized on Provence, which 
was also called Cis-peran Burgundy, of which country he was pro- 
claimed king by an assembly of bishops. 

Louis and Carloman both died very young, the first in 882, in an 
expedition against the Normans ; the second in 884, while hunting. 

* This Louis II., King of France and son of Charles the Bald, must not he confounded 
with the Emperor Louis II., called the Young, and son of Lothair. 








Neither left any male descent, but they had a younger brother of the 
name of Charles, a posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer, and issue 
of a second marriage. The crown devolved, by hereditary right, on 
this boy, who was only five years of age at the death of his brother. 
His youth caused him to be excluded from the throne by the nobles, 
who elected in his stead as king the Emperor Charles the Fat, son of 
Louis the German. This prince, by the death of his two brothers, 
and the three sons of Lothair, his cousins, had inherited Germany and 
Italy : he joined Gaul to them, and the Empire of Charlemagne was 
momentarily re-established in his hand. But the hand was an unworthy 
one. Charles the Fat was only nominally emperor and king ; and is 
only known by the lustre shed by the crown of Charlemagne, imbe- 
cility, cowardice, and misfortunes. The Normans braved him, and 
carried on their daring inroads under his eyes. Paris sustained a 
memorable siege against them, in which Eudes, Count of Paris, and 
Robert distinguished themselves; both sons of the famous Robert 
the Strong, killed twenty years previously, while fighting the same 
enemies. Their valour and the heroic efforts of Goslin, Bishop of 
Paris, ensured the safety of the city, while Charles the Fat, at the 
head of an army assembled to save his people, made a cowardly com- 
position with the foreigners, and allowed them to pillage his richest 
provinces. A cry of indignation was raised against him on all sides. 
He was deposed at the Diet of Tribur in 888, and died the same year 
in indigence, deserted by all his friends. # 

* Historians have not counted the Emperor Charles the Fat in the list of sovereigns 
of the name of Charles who reigned in Graul, because they have regarded his reign as a 
usurpation. In their eyes the legitimate king was young Charles, son of Louis the 
Stammerer, who was elected at a later date. 

888-987] GATJL DIVIDED. 115 







The definitive partition, which irrevocably completed the dismember- 
ment of the Empire, took place on the death of Charles the Fat. 
Italy became a separate kingdom : all the country comprised between 
the Fancelles Mountains (a transverse chain of the Vosges), the sources 
of the Rhine, and the Pennine Alps, formed, under the name of Upper 
or Trans-peran Burgundy, a new kingdom, of which Rodolph Wolf 
was the founder. Prior to this, Boson, brother-in-law of Charles the 
Bald, had assumed the title of King of Provence, or Cis-peran Bur- 
gundy. This kingdom has as its limits the Jura, the Alps, the 
Mediterranean, the Saone, and the Cevennes.* Lotharingia, or Lor- 
raine, was restricted between the Fancelles Mountains, the Scheldt, the 
Rhine, and the German Ocean. Aquitainef extended to the Pyrenees, 

* The kingdoms of Trans-peran and Cis-peran Burgundy were entirely distinct from 
the part of old Burgundy situated between the Saone and the Loire, and which received 
and retained the name of Duchy of Burgundy. In 933 these two kingdoms were 
formed into one, which took the name of the Kingdom of Aries. 

+ Carloman, son of Louis the Stammerer, was the last of the Carlovingians who bore 
the title of King of Aquitaine. This vast state ceased from this time to constitute a 
kingdom. It had for a lengthened period "been divided between powerful families, tLe 
most illustrious of which are those of the Counts of Toulouse,- founded in the ninth 
century by Fredelon, the Counts of Poitiers, the Counts of Auvergne, the Marquises of 
Septimania or Gothia, and the Dukes of Gascony. King Eudes had given William the 

I 2 


and the greater part of the territory enclosed between these divers 
states and Brittany henceforth retained the name of France. Abont 
the same period, the Counts of Vermandois extended their power to 
the north, while the powerful houses of Poitiers] and Toulouse sprang 
up in Aquitaine, and opposed a barrier to the incursions of the 
Saracens. From this last dismemberment of the Empire of the 
Franks dates the historic existence of the French nation. On the 
deposition of Charles the Fat, young Charles, third son of Louis 
the Stammerer, was only eight years old : his age was a second time 
the cause of his exclusion, and the nobles, alarmed by a new invasion 
of the Normans, preferred to him Budes, Count of Paris, son of 
Hobert the Strong ; not through any desire to desert the cause of 
France, a contemporary historian tells us, but through impatience to 
march against the enemy. Eudes was already celebrated by his 
defence of Paris against the Normans : he was elected king in 888. 

With the reign of Eudes commenced a long series of civil wars, 
which was terminated at the end of a century by the definitive exclu- 
sion of the Carlovingian race. This prince always had arms in hand, 
either against the lords of Aquitaine, who tried to render themselves 
independent, or against Charles, his youthful rival, who was supported 
by Arnolph, King of Germany. Eudes eventually ceded to him 
several provinces, and he was about to recognize him as his successor 
when he died in 898. Charles III. was then proclaimed King of 
France, and is known by the souhriqiiet of Charles the Simple ;* and 
history, which is silent as to the majority of events in his reign of 
twenty-five years, has handed down to us, with his surname, the 
recollection of his incapacity. The most celebrated act of his life 
was the cession made by Charles in 912 of the territory afterwards 
called Normandy, to a formidable Norman chief, who had been dis- 
inherited by his father, and banished from Norway, his native land. 

Pious, Count of Auvergne, the investiture of the duchy of Aquitaine. On the extinction 
' of that family in 928, the Counts of Toulouse and those of Poitou disputed the preroga- 
\aispes, and their quarrel stained the south with blood for a long time. At length the 

Counts of Poitou acquired the title of Dukes of Aquitaine or Guyenne, which remained 

in their house up to the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry Plantagenet I. 

King of England (1151). 

* The Carlovingian kings of the name of Charles come in the following order : — 

Charles I., or Charlemagne; Charles II., or the Bald, son of Louis the Debonnaire ; 

Charles III., or the Simple, posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer. 

88S-987J GAUL DIVIDED. 117 

This chief, who had previously desolated Gaul by perpetual invasions, 
is celebrated in history by the name of Rollo, and was the first Duke 
of Normandy. He paid homage to the King, was converted fco Chris- 
tianity, and divided his vast territory into fiefs. His warriors, whom 
he kept down by severe laws, became the fathers of a great people 
which was the firmest bulwark of France against the invasions of the 
northern races. 

Numerous revolts troubled the end of this reign. For sixty years 
the French were divided between two families of sovereigns, that of 
Charlemagne and that of King Eudes. The nobles reproached 
Charles with giving all his favour to his minister Haganon, whom he 
had raised from an obscure rank to place him over them, and who at 
times carried his familiarity so far as to take off the King's hat and 
place it on his own head. The chief of the malcontents was the 
brother of King Eudes, Robert, Duke of France,* who repented thai 
he had not disputed the succession to his brother with Charles the 
Simple. This Duke formed a league against Haganon : then he told 
the King that he would not suffer an unworthy favourite to be pre- 
ferred to the nobles of the kingdom, and that, unless Charles sent 
him back to his original position, he would hang him without mercy. 
The King despised this menace. Robert then decreed his deposition 
with the nobles of the land, and assured himself of the adherence of 
the King of Germany, Henry the Fowler : he then entered Soissons 
with a band of conspirators, penetrated to the prince's apartments, 
and made him a prisoner. On hearing of this, Herve, Archbishop of 
Reims, faithful to the cause of Charles, armed his vassals, entered 
Soissons at their head, broke open the palace gates, reached the King, 
dispersed his guardians, and, taking the hand of the unfortunate 
prince, said to him, " Come, my king, and command thy servants," 
He took him away at once, and conducted him to Reims. Charles 
the Simple, thus delivered by the Archbishop, retired to the heart of 
Belgian Gaul,-}- the cradle of his family, and took up his residence in 

* This duchy, which, it is said, was conceded in 861 to Robert the Strong by Charles 
the Bald, comprised, in addition to the counties of Paris and Orleans, the Gfallicois, the 
Chartrans, the Blaisois, Perche, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, and Beauvoisis. 

•f This was the name given in the tenth century to the greater portion of the kiDgdora 
of Lorraine. 


the city of Tongres. But his reign was at an end : his deposition was 
pronounced by the nobles at an assembly held at Soissons in 920, and 
Robert was elected king, and consecrated at the Church of St. Remi, 
in Reims (922). Charles called his partizans around him. He 
interested the Belgians or Lorraines in his misfortunes : he marched 
at their head to meet his rival, and his army encountered that of 
Robert, near the old royal residence of Attigny, in Champagne. 
Jlere a sanguinary action was fought, in which King Robert was 
killed, while fighting. Charles was flying when he heard of Robert's 
death, but he did not take advantage of this circumstance to secure 
the crown on his own head ; and not daring to trust to his subjects, he 
returned with his army to Lorraine. 

Robert, Duke of France, was succeeded by his son, the celebrated 
Hugues the Great, or the "White, who made kings and would not be 
one himself. This powerful lord had the deposition of Charles the 
Simple confirmed, and decreed the crown to his brother-in-law, Raoul, 
or Rodolph, Duke of Burgundy, and father-in-law of King Robert, 
who accepted the crown against his wish. Charles the Simple was 
then drawn into a snare by Herbert, Count of Vermandois, who seized 
him and retained him a prisoner at Peronne. 

Raoul, elected in 923, reigned for eleven years. He had to contend 
against the Normans, whom he repulsed, and against the perfidious 
Herbert, who, master of the person of King Charles, wished to domi- 
neer over King Raoul, and placed no bounds on his demands. He 
asked for the county of Leon, and when it was refused him, he set 
Charles at liberty again. But soon after he again sought the favour of 
Hugues the Great, who had crowned Raoul ; and on becoming recon- 
ciled with him imprisoned the unfortunate Charles for the second time. 
Raoul, however, moved by a feeling of equity, the chronicler says, or 
by compassion, went to visit the captured king, and begged him to 
pardon him. He did not restore to him the supreme authority ; but he 
gave him back, with his liberty, the royal residences of Ponthiou and 
Attigny. Charles the Simple languished for some time, and died in 
929, crushed by sorrow and illness. 

Raoul reigned for seven years longer, and the close of his reign was 
troubled by a bloody war, which Hugues the White, Duke of France, 
waged against the Count of Vermandois and the Duke of Lorraine. 

888-987] GAUL DIVIDED. 119 

The King of France, suzerain of Hugues, and lie of Germany, Henry 
the Fowler, suzerain of the Duke of Lorraine, were drawn into this 
war, and appeared more like allies of their vassals than as sove- 

Germany and Gaul were a prey to frightful calamities : foreign 
invasion added its scourge to those of intestine dissensions, and the 
Hungarians ravaged Germany. These ferocious hordes, vanquished in 
933 by Henry the Fowler in the celebrated battle of Merseburg, 
returned two years later, crossed Germany, and penetrated into Bur- 
gundy. King R-aoul marched to meet them. At the rumour of his 
approach the Hungarians evacuated Burgundy and fell back on Italy. 
Raoul died the following year. He left no sons to succeed him on the 
throne, which no member of his family inherited. His duchy of Bur- 
gundy, the real seat of his power, did not pass in its entirety to his 
natural heirs. Hugues the Black, his brother, only obtained a part of 
it ; his brother-in-law, Hugues the Great, Count of Paris, took advan- 
tage of a civil war to seize the larger portion of it. This powerful 
noble, son of King Robert, nephew of King Eudes, and brother-in-law 
of the last King Baoul, governed, as Duke of France, all the countries 
situated between Normandy and Brittany in the west, the Loire in the 
south, and the Meuse in the north. He owed the name of Great rather 
to the vast extent of his states than to his personal merit ; and he 
surpassed so greatly in power all the lords of Gaul that he only 
required to stretch out his hand to the crown in order to ensure the 
possession of it. "But," writes the author who appears to us to have 
judged the situation most correctly, " Hugues seems to have considered 
the power of an hereditary lord in his fief as far more satisfactory to 
ambition than the prerogatives of an elective king among independent 
vassals. He had already extended considerably the inheritance of his 
family, and intended to extend it further. But he wished to give all 
his usurpations the sanction of the royal authority, and he judged 
that they would be far more respected if he placed between the other 
vassals and himself the name of a legitimate king, whose master he 
would be, than if he ran the risk of seeing the acquisitions he had 
made contested, as well as his own title to the crown. All the nobles 
of the south of Gaul and Aquitaine had wished, in the last wars, to 


remain faithful to the blood of Charlemagne ; and Hugues calculated 
on governing them in the name of a descendant of that Emperor."* 

Hugues the Great, therefore, thought of Louis, son of Charles the 
Simple. This young prince, who was sixteen years of age, was living 
at the time in England privately with his mother, the sister of the 
Anglo-Saxon King Athelstane, and he owed to this circumstance the 
surname of Louis d* Outre-Mer, or from across the sea. Hugues 
gave him the crown by agreement with William Longsword, second 
Duke of Normandy, and with the lords of old Neustria and Aqui- 
taine. A solemn embassy conveyed their wishes to the court of 
the King his master, inviting him to come and reign in France. Louis 
accepted the crown, and was consecrated at Reims in the year 936, at 
the same period when Otho the Great, of the House of Saxony, suc- 
ceeded Henry the Fowler, his "father, on the imperial throne of 



The royal domain was at this period limited to the county of Laon. 
■ There alone Louis TV. reigned de facto as well as nominally ; every- 
where else in Gaul the dukes and counts were more sovereign than 
the king. Hugues the Great, while doing him homage, did not intend 
to free him from his guardianship. The young monarch himself 
claimed his independence : he had the soul of a king, if he had not the 
power ; and his reign was a stormy and perpetual struggle. 

A formidable invasion of the Hungarians marked its opening. A 
numerous horde of this savage people passed through the kingdom 
and back again like a devastating torrent ; and this scourge suspended 
for a time the rupture on the point of breaking out between Louis and 
his powerful vassal. Hugues, upon seeing the King escape from his 
influence, made a close league with several lords of northern Gaul, and 
more especially with William, Duke of the Normans, Arnolph, Count 

* Sismondi, Histoire des Frangais y Part ii. Cap. iv. 


of Flanders, and the same Herbert, Count of Yermandois, who had 
for so long a period kept Charles the Simple prisoner. 

The Lorrainers, at this period, had revolted against the Emperor 
Otho the Great, King of Germany, their suzerain, and transferred 
their homage to Lonis d'Outre-Mer, who accepted it. A war broke out 
between the two kings ; and in this struggle the confederate nobles, 
vassals of Louis, allied themselves against him with the King of 
Germany, whom they proclaimed King of the Gauls at Attigny. Otho 
did not retain this title ; but he recovered Lorraine and made peace 
with Louis, the husband of his sister Gerberge,* a princess of rare 
merit, who eventually employed her influence with success to maintain 
friendly terms between her husband and brother. The struggle of 
Louis against the rebel lords was prolonged for two years more, and 
was ended by the intervention of Pope Asapete and the Emperor Otho. 
The latter reconciled Hugues the Great with the King. 

The kingdom was agitated at this period by a famous quarrel 
between two priests, who disputed the archiepis copal see of Reims. 
One was Hugues of Yermandois, son of Count Herbert, who was con- 
secrated almost on leaving the cradle, and protected by the Count of 
Paris. The other, elected by the people, and a partizan of the King, 
was the Bishop Artaud. The latter was for a time expelled from his 
see, and Reims liberated itself from the royal authority. This quarrel 
was prolonged during the entire reign of Louis d'Outre-Mer. It occu- 
pies a considerable place in the annals of the epoch ; and in order to 
understand its importance we must bear in mind that the bishops were, 
in Gaul during the tenth century, the real masters of the cities in 
which they had their sees, and that a town at that time was frequently 
a state, and sometimes almost a kingdom. 

In these barbarous times the violence of the nobles did not stop at 
assassination, and the law was impotent against the abuses of brute 
force. The prince who, next to Hugues the Great, was the most for- 
midable vassal of the crown, William Longsword, Duke of Normandy, 
himself fell the victim of an odious snare. He was cowardly murdered 
by the emissaries of Arnolph, Count of Planders, and the murderer, 

* Hugues the Great, Count of Paris and Duke of France, had married another sister 
of the Emperor Otho, of the name of Hedwig. 


whom the royal justice could not reach, remained unpunished.* The 
conduct of Louis d'Outre-Mer was not at all loyal in this affair. The 
Normans had recognized as William's successor a natural son of that 
prince, the youthful Richard, ten years of age, who was afterwards 
surnamed the Fearless. Louis hastened to confirm him in the honours 
and privileges of the ducal rank, and then asked and obtained that the 
boy should be entrusted to him for the purpose of receiving at his 
court an education worthy of his fortunes. Master'of his person, Louis, 
in agreement with Hugues the Great, thought of depriving him of his 
duchy. They hoped to divide Normandy between them, and made an 
alliance for that purpose. These culpable hopes were foiled. Osmond, 
governor of the prince, escaped the surveillance of his keepers by a 
stratagem. He concealed Richard in a truss of hay, placed him thus 
on his horse, and, starting at a gallop, reached during the night the 
castle of Coucy, where he placed the prince in surety. Louis, 
when he found Richard was at liberty, openly renounced the idea of 
despoiling him, and Hugues, having nothing further to hope from the 
King's alliance, became his enemy again. 

Louis, in his turn, became the victim of a trick on the part of the 
Normans. Receiving an invitation from them, he proceeded to Rouen, 
and the reception they gave him completely deceived him. The city 
of Bayeux had at the time as governor an ex-Danish king of the name 
of Harold, who had been expelled from his states by his son. This 
Harold requested a conference of King Louis, who went unsuspect- 
ingly with a small suite to meet him at the ford of Herluin. Here, at 
a signal from the Norman chief, an armed band suddenly fell on the 
royal escort, dispersed, and put it to flight. The King's squire was 
killed in defending him ; and Louis, carried across country by a swift 
horse, re-entered the walls of Rouen alone, where, instead of a refuge? 
he found a prison. The inhabitants, who were accomplices in Harold's 
perfidy, seized the King's person, and made him a prisoner. The 
Count of Paris pretended to take an interest in the fate of the captive 
monarch. He interfered in his favour, and demanded as hostages his 
two sons of Grerberge, their mother. Grerberge would only give one. 
Hugues induced the Normans to accept him in exchange for King 

* Richer gives us to understand that Hugues the Great, and even the Emperor Otho, 
were the instigators of this murder. 


Louis, and the latter was delivered over by tliem into his hands. 
Hugues then threw off the mask, and, having the King in his power, 
he broke his word, kept him captive, and repulsed the powerful inter- 
vention of Edmund, King of the Anglo-Saxons, in favour of his 
nephew.* Hugues unworthily abused his advantage; he overwhelmed 
the unhappy prince with reproaches, and forced him to surrender Laon, 
his finest city, as his ransom. 

Delivered, at this price, the King proceeded to Compiegne, where his 
wife Gerberge, celebrated for her virtues, was awaiting him, and 
several bishops and a few faithful friends were assembled. Then he 
could no longer restrain his grief. " Hugues, Hugues ! " he exclaimed, 
u what property hast thou robbed me of; how many evils hast thou 
done to me ! Thou hast seized on the city of Reims ; thou hast 
defrauded me of Laon. In those two cities I met with a good recep- 
tion, and they were my sole ramparts. My captive father was 
delivered by death from misfortunes like those by which I am crushed ; 
and I, reduced to the same extremities, can only recall to mind the 
appearance of the royalty of my ancestors. I feel a regret at living, 
and I am not allowed to die !"f Louis, in his distress, implored and 
obtained the assistance of his brother-in-law, the Emperor Otho the 
Great, King of Germany, and of Conrad the Pacific, King of Trans- 
peran Burgundy and Provence. With the assistance of their armies, 
he recaptured the city of Reims, where he re-established Archbishop 
Artaud in the archiepiscopal see. Then he invested the city of Laon, 
and seized it by surprise. 

A council, at which appeared the Kings of France and Germany, 
assembled at Ingelheim, under the protection of the imperial armies. 
The principal object of the meeting was, on the one hand to suspend 
the hostilities of Count Hugues against the King, and, on the other, to 
settle the too famous dispute between Bishop Artaud and his compe- 
titor. The latter was deposed, and Pope Asapete confirmed this 
decision. The council prohibited Hugues from henceforth taking up 
arms against his lord the King ; and the Count, refusing to obey, was 

* Louis d'Outre-Mer's mother was sister of the Anglo-Saxon Kings Athelstane and 

f Richer, Histoire de son Temps. 


The anathema of the Church, far from disarming this powerful 
vassal, rendered him more violent and formidable. Joining the 
Normans, he ravaged the lands of King Louis, fired his castles, and 
carried pillage and murder into his towns. Louis continued the 
contest with more courage than success. At length, recognizing his 
powerlessness, he applied to the Pope, King Otho, and the bishops to 
effect a reconciliation between him and Hugues. They obtained the 
signature of a truce. Hugues once again recognized the royal 
authority, and swore fidelity. Louis d'Outre-Mer did not long enjoy 
the repose which this peace seemed to promise him. He saw 
several parts of Romanic France, among others the Yermandois, 
the diocese of Reims, and Laon, ravaged by the Hungarians, and 
survived the invasion of these barbarians but a short time. While 
proceeding from Laon to Reims, a wolf crossed his road. The King 
dashed in pursuit, but his horse fell, and he was mortally wounded. 
He died at the age of 33, in September, 954, esteemed for his valour 
and talents, which, under other circumstances, would have sufficed to 
keep the crown on his head. The race of Charlemagne displayed its 
last lustre in the person of Louis d'Outre-Mer : so long as he lived, 
there was still a king in France, although there was no kingdom 

Louis IV. left two sons, of youthful years, Lothaire and Charles. 
Their mother, Gerberge, sister of Otho the Great, King of Germany, 
understood that without the assistance of the Count of Paris the 
throne would slip from her family. She, therefore, asked his support ; 
and the same motives which had induced Hugues to crown the father 
determined him also to crown the son, from whom he expected greater 
"docility. Lothaire, elder son of Louis d'Outre-Mer, was, therefore, 
proclaimed king at Reims at the close of 954, under the protection of 
Hugues the Great ; and he recognized this service by adding to the 
possessions of Hugues the duchy of Aquitaine, with which he 
invested him, to the prejudice of the orphan children of Raymond 
Pons, Count of Toulouse, whom he despoiled of their father's heritage. 
Hugues at once led an army into Aquitaine ; and, after an unsuccessful 
expedition, he was preparing a second, when death surprised him at 
the Castle of Bourdon, on the Orge (956). During his lifetime, there 
was no other power in Gaul comparable to his j he employed it with- 


out moderation, but not without prudence. He was the real founder of 
the grandeur of his family, but he did not attach his name to any 
useful and really glorious work ; and, if he opened for his son the 
road to the throne on which his father and uncle had already sat, he 
also^contributed to dishonour royalty, hj teaching the nobles, through 
his own example, how to brave and oppress those whom they had 

Hugues the Great left the duchy of France and the county of 
Paris to his son Hugues, who was afterwards named Capet.* Henry, 
his second son, inherited the duchy of Burgundy. Both were children 
a,t their father's death. Hugues, the elder, was hardly ten years of 
age. Their mother Hedwig, and Queen Gerberge, mother and guardian 
of the young King Lothaire, were sisters ; their brother was Otho, 
King of Germany, and they placed their children under his protection. 

This prince, of the House of Saxony, was, at that period, the most 
illustrious and powerful prince in Europe. He had conquered Italy 
from King Beranger II., and he received the imperial crown from 
the hands of the Pope, as Charlemagne had done. Through his great 
qualities and victories, he restored all its vigour to the Germanic 
monarchy. His alliances added to his greatness, and gave him an 
influence over the greater part of Western Europe. Saint Bruno, his 
brother, governed Lorraine :f his brother-in-law, Conrad the Pacific, 
reigned in Trans-peran Burgundy and Provence : lastly, his sisters, one 
Queen, the other Duchess of France, received advice and instruction 
from him. His fortune and genius brought together the scattered 
members of the old Empire, and the latter appeared to be born again 
in his hands. This great monarch died in 973. His successor was his 
son, Otho II. ; and his death was followed by sanguinary disorders in 
several countries which he had kept in peace or subjection by the 
terror of his arms and his name. 

* There are very many versions of the etymology of this surname, which became the 
patronymic of the third race. One of the hest accredited is that which derives it from 
chap ot us (hood), because Hugues, among his other titles, was Abbot of St. Martin 
of Torss, and wore the insignia. 

T Lotharingia, or Lorraine, Lad been annexed to the Grerman crown about the year 923, 
by the Emperor Henry L, called the Fowler. On becoming a province of the Empire, 
its government was given by Otho to his brother, St. Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne. 
The latter divided it into two parts, Upper Lorraine, in the Mosellaise, and Lower Lor- 
raine : the latter was almost entirely formed of the countryTwhich is at the present day 


The bonds of blood and gratitude attached King Lothaire and 
Ungues Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, to the Emperor 
Otho II., son of the great man who had protected their youth: and 
both formed fresh bonds with his family by each marrying one of his 
sisters. Still, the peace between the two kings was of short duration : 
a dispute broke out on the subject of Belgian Gaul or Lower Lorraine, 
to which country both asserted a claim. Lorraine, divided by Otho 
the Great into Upper and Lower Lorraine, and annexed to the German 
crown by his predecessor, Henry the Fowler, had since been con- 
sidered a province of the Empire. Charles, brother of King Lothaire, 
had inherited a few fiefs from his mother ; and after the death of 
Otho the Great, he claimed them with arms in his hand. The 
Emperor Otho II., who was troubled on his other frontiers, offered 
Charles the duchy of Lower Lorraine, to be held by him as a fief of the 
Germanic crown. Charles accepted it, and Ofcho believed that he had 
satisfied King Lothaire by this concession : but the latter, on learning 
the following year that the Emperor was unsuspectingly residing at 
Aix-la-Chapelle, formed the plan of surprising him there ; and an 
expedition was unanimously decided on against the King of Germany. 
The army, immediately assembled, was marched upon the Meuse, and 
King Otho was all but surprised in^ his capital. Lothaire's soldiers 
occupied the city and palace : the royal tables were overthrown, the 
imperial insignia removed, and the bronze eagle which Charlemagne 
had placed above his palace with outstretched wings and turned to 
the west, was made to face the south-east, as a symbol of the preci- 
pitate flight of the Germans. Here Lothaire's success stopped, and 
he led back his army without obtaining any serious advantage. 

Otho II. took revenge for his disgrace : he invaded Gaul at the 
head of a formidable army of Germans, and, ravaging the whole 
country on his passage, advanced up to the gates of Paris. Here, oil 
the summit of Montmartre, he made his soldiers strike up the Canticle 
of the Martyrs, so as to be heard by the inhabitants, and Count Hugues, 
who defended the capital against him. This useless bravado was the 
sole satisfaction which the King of Germany obtained. Despairing of 
entering Paris, and not daring to remain among a hostile population, 
he returned to his states ; and his retreat, which was disturbed by 
Lothaire and Hugues, was asf-precipitate as his attack had been. 

Lothaire understood, however, that there was greater safety for him 


in the alliance of the King of Germany, than in his resentment : he, 
therefore, surrendered to him his claims on Lorraine, and they were 
reconciled. From this momenet Hugues Capet and Lothaire became 
enemies. But Hngnes soon saw all the dangers with which the union 
of the two kings threatened him, and he made up his mind to divide 
them. He proceeded secretly to King Otho, concluded peace with 
him, and on his return passed in disguise through Lothaire's posses- 
sions, contriving to escape his traps. The King and the Duke 
employed perfidious machinations against each other, and the nations 
suffered for a long time from their enmity. At length recognizing 
their impotence to destroy each other, they made peace, and were 
ostensibly reconciled. 

Lothaire, during his lifetime, shared the throne with his son Louis, 
who was scarce thirteen years of age. This young prince was crowned 
in 978 at Compiegne, by Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims, in the 
presence and with the consent of Hugues Capet and the nobles of the 
kingdom. Lothaire attempted to secure Aquitaine for his son, by 
giving him as wife Adelaide, princess of Southern Gaul, and widow 
of Baymond, Duke of Septimania.* But Louis did not redeem his 
dissipated habits by any royal quality. The nobles of Aquitaine did 
not recognize his authority : his wife herself deserted him, and he was 
in a perilous situation, when King Lothaire entered Aquitaine at the 
head of an army, and brought back his son. 

Otho II. died at this period (983) at Borne, leaving a son only three 
years of age, who was crowned by the name of Otho III. Lothaire 
took advantage of the disorders which paralyzed the strength of 
Germany during this lad's minority, once more to assert his rights 
over Lorraine : he led an army into that country, besieged and 
captured Verdun. On returning to the city of Laon, he was medi- 
tating a new expedition into Lorraine, when he fell ill and expired 
(986), in the forty-fifth year of his life, and the thirty- third of his 
reign, f 

Louis "V., the last king of his race, merely passed over the throne. 
Comparing his weakness with the power of his vassal, Hugues Capet, 

^'Several chronicles state that Louis espoused a princess of Southern Gaul, of the 
name of Blanche, who eventually poisoned him. We have followed the far more detailed 
version of Richer. 

+ We are told in several chronicles that Lothaire was poisoned by Queen Emma, his 
wife, who was guilty of adultery. 


he went to him, and said, " My father, when dying, recommended me 
to govern the kingdom with your counsels and yonr help. He assured 
me that with your assistance I should possess the riches, armies, and 
strong places of the kingdom : be good enough, therefore, to give me 
your advice. I place in you my hopes, my will, my fortune." The 
King thus appeared himself to lay his crown at the feet of his vassal. 
Still, the historian who has preserved these words for us, adds that 
the Duke allowed himself to be dragged involuntarily by the King into 
a war against Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims, to whom the King 
imputed, among other crimes, that of having facilitated the last 
invasion of Otho II. during his father's lifetime, and having assured 
his safety ' and that of the Grermanic army by assisting him in his 
retreat. The King and Hugues Capet, therefore, laid siege to Reims, 
and menaced the city and the Bishop with the severest punishment, 
unless the latter consented to purge himself publicly from the accu- 
sations brought against him. The Metropolitan promised to justify 
himself and appear on an appointed day ; he gave hostages, and the 
siege was raised. 

Another prelate, of the name of Adalberon, Bishop of Laon, was, 
like him of Reims, exposed to persecutions during this reign. Accused 
by the public clamour of adultery with Emma, the widow of Lothaire, 
he was expelled from his see. The Queen shared his disgrace, and both 
escaped from their enemies by flight ; but they fell into the hands of 
Charles, brother of Lothaire, Duke of Lower Lorraine, and he threw 
them into prison. Hugues Capet, in the meanwhile, was secretly 
forming engagements to the family reigning in Germany ; he drew 
more closely the bonds attaching him to Otho, and gained over to his 
ambitious views the Empress Theophania, guardian of the youthful 
Otho III. 

The crisis was approaching. Louis "V. had a fall at Senlis, the 
consequences of which were mortal, and he expired only one year after 
his father's death, May 22, 987, and was buried at Compiegne. 

The nobles of the kingdom, after being present at the King's 
funeral, assembled in council to elect his successor. Louis had left 
no children ; but his uncle Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, was his 
next heir, and put forward his claim to the crown. He had Hugues 
Capet for a rival, and had made a dangerous enemy of the Metro- 
politan, the same Archbishop Adalberon who, exposed to the wrath of 


the late king had promised to justify himself publicly of the crimes 
imputed to him. Adalberon appeared at the assembly of Compiegne. 
No one having come forward to support the accusation, the Bishop 
was acquitted, and admitted to deliberate on the affairs of the State. 
Taking his place among the nobles, he voted for the election being 
deferred for a few days, and convened a general assembly at Senlis. 
According to the testimony of Richer, this assembly was numerous 
and imposing : at it were present Frank, Breton, Norman, Aquitanian, 
Gothic, Spanish, and Gascon nobles. The Archbishop of Reims 
addressed them. " Charles," he said, "has his partizans, who declare 
him worthy of the throne by the right which his parents transmitted 
to him ; but the kingdom is not acquired by hereditary right, and no 
one ought to be raised to the throne except a man who is not only of 
illustrious birth, but possessing wisdom : a man sustained by faith and 
greatness of soul. Are these qualities to be found in this Charles, 
who is not governed by faith, who is enervated by a shameful torpor, 
who has sunk the dignity of his person so far as to serve without 
shame a foreign king, and marry a wife inferior to him, drawn from 
the rank of simple warriors ? * How could the grand duke suffer a 
woman, selected from among his knights, to become queen, and domi- 
neer over him. If you desire the misfortune of the state, then choose 
Charles ! If you desire its welfare, crown the excellent Duke Hugues. 
Choose him, and you will find we have a protector, not only of the 
republic, but also of everybody's interests." Hugues was raised to 
the throne, unanimously crowned at Noyou, on June 1, 987, by 
Adalberon, and recognized as king by the different nations of Gaul. 

* If Charles had been very powerful of himself the reproach made by the Archbishop 
would have been valueless, especially in the mouth of an enemy ; it being the constant 
practice of lords at that period to possess simultaneously fiefs under several suzerains. 
But Charles had no personal authority ; the desert domain he inherited in France from 
his brother only consisted of a few towns ; he derived all his strength from his fief, and, 
as Duke of Lower Lorraine, he was entirely dependent on his suzerain, the King of Ger- 
many ; hence there was reason to fear lest the Germanic crown might weigh too heavy in 
the destinies of France. Charles, moreover, had injured himself in the sight of the 
nobles of the kingdom, by doing homage for his duchy to the King of Germany at 
the very time when the suzerainty cf that fief was claimed by King Lothaire. These 
reasons were among those that led the nobles to prefer Hugues to Charles as king, and 
there is nothing to support the idea of an asserted opposition to a dynasty of Germanic 



The fall of the Carlovingians was not, as has been stated, the result 
of a popular opposition to the dynasty, which was deposed by a 
national feeling as founded on conquest. This opinion, the error of 
an illustrious historian, and which has been sustained with all the 
power of talent, is not confirmed by contemporary testimony. If it 
be true to say that Charles Martel penetrated into Western France at 
the head of new Germanic bands, it must be also allowed that he 
found there a people already half German through its government, 
its laws, and a conquest prior by more than two centuries. The 
chronicles of the period bear witness that the descendants of the 
Gauls and Germans only formed, in the tenth century, one people in 
the northern part of ancient Gaul, and that the traditional respect 
for the blood of Charlemagne had survived the unity of his empire. 
In the decomposition of the latter, in the absence of any general 
idea, and when society was broken up all around, it was natural 
that the King should be engaged in a contest with his powerful 
subjects, and that the peoples should support their direct lords 
against everybody, even were it the King. The same fact has been 
reproduced in other countries, and, in order to understand it, it 
is not necessary to base it on the hereditary hatred of the two 
races. Some writers have pointed out a double cause of dislike 
of the Carlovingians, and popular sympathy for the descendants of 
Robert the Strong, in the Germanic origin of the former, and in the 
support they at times asked of a foreign potentate, the King of 
Germany, a man of their own race and blood. But long before the 
accession of the third race to the crown, the family of the Carlovin- 
gians had disappeared from the Imperial throne and that of Germany. 
It is also now notorious that the family of Robert the Strong was 
quite as Germanic as that of Charlemagne ; and if the Carlovingian 
kings of Gaul had the kings of Germany as allies on various occasions, 
they found in them at others their most formidable enemies, and 
finally, towards the close, the Duke of France, and the King, his 
suzerain, were seen seeking, with equal ardour, the support of the 
Gemanic crown in their contest. 

The real explanation of the accession of the third race will be found 
in the state of society, which was assuming another form, and being 
established on a new basis. Charlemagne had attempted to impress 


on the monarchy a grand character of unity, and these ideas of unity 
and the concentration of power were the dream and object of the 
efforts of his successors, either on the Imperial throne, or at the head 
of the states into which the Empire was broken up, but these proud 
pretensions were no longer tenable in Gaul at the end of the tenth 
century : they were opposed to the tendencies of the age, and formed 
a singular contrast with the feebleness of those who were crushed by 
the royal title. A subterranean revolution, from which feudalism 
emerged, was slowly accomplished ; another society was formed ; and 
any new society can only live and prosper, so long as it has at its head 
a representative of the principles that constituted it. Hugues Capet, 
the most powerful of the feudal lords, was in France the natural 
representative of the new social order based on feudalism : and it was 
especially for that reason that he was elected king. 

The tenth century is one of the most obscure and disastrous epochs 
in the history of France : everything became weak simultaneously, the 
pious zeal and virtues of the clergy, the authority of the laws, and the 
independence of the inhabitants of cities. The Saracens, Hungarians, 
Germans, and Normans desolated the country, and burnt the cities j 
the latter were no longer the seat of government or of subaltern 
administrations, and the residences of the rich. The castles alone 
afforded a refuge against foreign invasions and civil wars, and to them 
retired all those who enjoyed any authority : there, too, justice was 
done, and the courts were held. Commerce disappeared, and with it 
the citizen and industrious classes : independent men, rich landowners 
and manufacturers, were succeeded in most of the cities by a trembling 
and servile population : the tradesman had no longer any fixed resi- 
dence; he travelled from manor to manor, carrying his wares with 
him, and concealing his profit in terror. Around each castle sprang 
up wretched cabins, inhabited by serfs, who carried on mechanical 
trades, or cultivated the soil on behalf of the lord : nearly the whole 
people consisted of serfs, at the mercy of the nobles, and victims of 
each political commotion. The frightful misery and general desolation 
seemed at that time to justify the popular belief that the end of the 
world was at hand, and that it would happen in the year 1000. Still, 
at the moment of this decadence, and when the old social order 
perished, another rose on its ruins, founded by the small number of 

k 2 



persons who had remained free and powerful, in the protection of their 
castles. This new order of things, which received the name of feu- 
dalism, had taken deep root during the past century, and despite its 
immense abuses prevented the utter dissolution of every social tie, and 
a return to the barbarism of remote periods. 


Pepin the Short, 






Louis I., 

called the Debonnaire, 



l 1 1. 
Lothaire I., Pepin I., Louis II., 

Charles II., 

Emperor. King of Aquitaine. called the German, called the Bald, 

King of Bavaria, 840-877. 

was father of 

the Emperor Charles, Louis II., 

called the Fat 

, called the 

King of the Grauls Stammerer, 

from 884-888. 


1 1 
Louis III. Carloman, 

Charles III., 

879-882. 879-884. 

called the Simple, 

excluded from the 

throne from 884-888 

bv Charles the Fat : 

from 888-898 by 

Count Eudes : 

eventually reigned 

from 898-923. 

Louis IV., called d? Outre Mer, 
excluded from the throne from 933-936 
by Raoul, Duke of Burgundy, 
reigned from 936-954. 


Louis V. , 

called the Slothful, 


last Carlovingian king. 


Duke of Lower Lorraine, 

excluded from the throne 

after the death of 

his nephew, Louis V. 












The accession of Hugues Capet had for result the development of the 
feudal system by consolidating it. Under the previous race, the lords 
had rendered the cession of benefices irrevocable, and made them 
hereditary in their families ; and as the German customs authorized 
the possessors of estates to regard as their own property not only the 
soil acquired, but also everything that existed on the soil at the moment 
of the cession or conquest, they soon persuaded themselves that they 
had a right to exercise civil, judicial, and military power in their domains, 
by virtue of their sole title as owners. Authority was consequently 
established by possession, and, by a strange fiction, power was attached 
to the land itself. Such was in France the origin of feudalism. 

Under the second race, the kings, ever sacrificing the future to the 
present, had in turn abandoned to the dukes and counts all the regal 
or royal rights — those of raising troops, administering justice, coining 
money, making peace or war, and fortifying themselves ; and from 
the moment when they recognized, by the edict _ of Kersy, the trans- 
mission of offices to the next heir as legal, the dukes and counts 


regarded themselves as possessors of the provinces in which their will 
was law. While de facto independent of the crown, the majority, 
however, still remained subordinate to it by the bond of the oath of 
fidelity. They distributed, of their own free will, domains among the 
nobles, who received them on faith and homage : and the latter granted 
inferior benefices to freemen on the same title. A great number of 
independent proprietors, alarmed by the ravages of external foes, and 
the commotion of the civil discords, sought support from their 
powerful neighbours, and obtained it by doing them homage for their 
lands, which they received back from the lords to whom they offered 
them as fiefs, the possession of which henceforth entailed the obligation 
of rendering faithful service to the suzerain. Thus, he who gave a 
territorial estate * in fief became the suzerain of him who received it 
on this title, and the latter was called a vassal, or liegeman. The 
landholders were thus considered, throughout the entire extent of the 
kingdom of France, as subjects, or vassals to each other. This system, 
which extended to the provinces, as well as to simple private domains, 
established a connecting link between all parts of the territory. In 
the feudal hierarchy the first rank belonged to the country or state 
which bore the title of kingdom ; and this title, on the coronation of 
Hugues Capet, was acquired for the ancient duchy of France, a great 
fief, which, on account of its central position, the warlike character of 
its inhabitants, and the extinction of the kingly title in the neighbour- 
ing states, was in a position eventually to obtain a real-supremacy. 

The feudal system rapidly embraced old Gaul, Italy, and Germany, 
and afterwards spread over the whole of Europe : it prepared the for- 
mation of the great states, and, during two hundred and forty years, 
took the place of the social bond, and of legislation. 

The first portion of this period resembles an interregnum, during 
which the king was only distinguished from the other lords by 
honorary prerogatives. Each fortress of any importance gave its 
owner rank among the sovereigns ; and as the civil discords made 

* It must not be supposed that land alone could be the object of a feudal concession. 
Immaterial things, such as a large number of rights, were also constituted into fiefs, and 
conceded on the same conditions. Amongst these may be mentioned the rights of 
fishing and hunting, of established taxes on highways or rivers, and the exclusive right 
of grinding corn, &c. 


the nobles feel the necessity of attaching to themselves a considerable 
number of men for their personal security, they divided their domains 
into a multitude of lots, which they gave in fief; granting to their 
vassals the permission to fortify themselves, which they had themselves 
wrung from Louis the Stammerer ; and a great number of castles 
were erected round the principal fortress. It is the general opinion 
that doing homage for a fief ennobled ; and the nobility thus sprang 
up, to a great extent, from the ninth to the tenth century. The right 
granted to subjects of providing for their own defence arrested the 
devastations of foreigners ; strengthened the national character ; 
revived a healthy feeling of self-respect among the members of a 
numerous class ; and authorized them in demanding equal politeness 
from those from whom they held estates, as well as from those to 
whom they ceded them, the feudal contract being annulled by the 
violation of the obligations contracted on either side. This new subor- 
dination was partly based on the faith of the oath ; and respect in 
sworn fidelity and loyalty thus became one of the distinctive traits in 
the character of the nobility.* 

The principal obligations contracted by the vassal under this system 
were to bear arms for a certain number of days on every military 
expedition ; to recognize the jurisdiction of the suzerain ; and to pay 
the feudal aids — a species of tax raised for the ransom of the lord, if 
he were made prisoner ; or on the occasion of the marriage of his 
eldest daughter ; or when his son was made a knight. Whenever a 
fief passed from one to another, either by inheritance or sale, a fee was 
paid to the suzerain, who, on his side, promised his liegeman justice 
and protection. On these conditions, the vassal was independent on 
his own land, and enjoyed the same rights, and was bound by the same 
duties towards his own vassals, as his suzerain. 

In this organization of feudal society the old pleas of the nation 
were altered into county pleas, in which the vassals united under 
the presidency of the count, and judicial combat was brought back 
into use, and became the basis of jurisprudence between gentlemen. 

* The following is the formula of the oath pronounced by the vassal on asking the 
investiture of his fief : — " Sire, I come to your homage, in your faith, and become your 
man of mouth and hands, and swear, and promise to you faith and loyalty toward all, and 
against all, and to keep your right in my power." 


From this time, the different codes of laws, which had so long subsisted 
among the various indigenous or conquered nations of Graul, entirely- 
disappeared. It was generally admitted that no man could be 
tried save by his peers, by which word was meant vassals of the same 
rank. The great vassals of the crown — the Dukes of Normandy, 
Aquitaine, and Burgundy, and the Counts of Flanders, Toulouse, and 
Champagne — were nominated peers of France ; and to these six lay 
peers were eventually added six ecclesiastical peers, who were 
the Archbishops of Reims and Sens, and the Bishops of Noyou, 
Beauvais, Chalons, and Langres. When a peer of France was 
summoned before the rest, the king presided at the trial. All these 
laws, conventions, and usages only concerned the nobility: the 
people were counted as nothing ; and the nobles and gentry, isolated 
from them in their habitations and through their privileges, were 
even more distinguished by their dress and weapons. It was thus 
that they kept the wretched and defenceless population in subjection. 
The military art underwent a change, and the cavalry henceforth 
became the strength of armies : bodily exercises, equitation, the 
management of the lance and sword, were the sole occupation of the 
nobility ; and the sale of arms, one of the principal branches of 
trade in Europe. This first period of the feudal confederation 
witnessed the birth of chivalry, respect for women, and modern 
languages and poetry. 

Such were the chief effects of this system as concerns the general 
policy and the interests of the nobility. We have now to examine it 
in its relations with the Church and the people. 

After the invasion of Gaul by the Franks, religion, so far as the 
mass of the people were concerned, mainly consisted in external 
ceremonies, and in the veneration of relics, of images of the 
Virgin and the saints, and of pictures representing the mysteries of 
the faith, the actions of Christ and of the Apostles, and the first 
believers. The magnificence of the worship exercised a great 
influence ; and the priests, under the Carlo vingians, imposed on the 
people, and more especially upon the nobles, by means of their riches 
and their power. But the Church which, in the fifth and sixth 
centuries, had alone resisted the invasion of barbarism, was less 
powerful to restrain the corruption entailed by an excess of wealth. 


Large numbers of barbarians had entered the ranks of the clergy, 
and virtue and learning almost entirely disappeared from amongst 
them from the eighth to the tenth century. In default of these claims 
on the respect of men, the only means the Church possessed of pre- 
serving its ascendancy in these unhappy times was to remain rich and 
powerful ; and at the period of the progressive establishment of the 
feudal system, it saw with terror the great vassals encroaching on its 
domains. The clergy soon comprehended that, as all the authority 
was in the hands of the possessors of fiefs, they must themselves 
form part of the new confederation. They therefore did homage for 
the Church domains, and then divided them into numerous lots, 
which they converted into fiefs, thus obtaining suzerains and vassals. 
As the obligation of military service was inseparable from the pos- 
session of fiefs, the clergy were subjected to it like all the other 
vassals ; they took up arms at the summons of their suzerains, and 
constrained their liegemen to fight for them. From this time a great 
number of bishops and abbots lived the lives of nobles; arms occu- 
pied them as much as the religious services ; and they neglected the 
most sacred duties of religion" for the licence of camps. Wherever 
the clergy did not embrace a martial life, the temporal lord obtained 
an immense advantage over them, and the bishops and -abbots often 
found it necessary to place themselves under the protection of a noble 
who was paid to defend them ; and who was called advocate, or 
vidaine. The clergy, through these feudal organizations, were diverted 
from the object of their institution, the people more rarely obtained 
consolation and succour at their hands, and most of the dignitaries of 
the Church joined the ranks of the oppressors. 

An immense majority of the people lived in a servile condition. 
The class of freemen, as we previously said, had to a great extent 
disappeared under the Carlovingians ; the citizen class had grown 
weaker, as the importance of the cities became diminished; and we 
may fairly say that, at the end of the tenth century, there was no 
middle class between the nobles, the sole possessors of 'all the enjoy- 
ments of life, and the wretches whose humble cabins surrounded their 
castles, and who were called serfs, or men of servitude, attached to 
the glebe — that is to say, to the land they cultivated. They were 
bought and sold with the land, and were unable to leave it of their 


own accord, to establish themselves elsewhere, when they found them- 
selves too cruelly oppressed. They possessed nothing of their own — 
neither the huts in which they lived, nor their implements of labour, 
nor the fruit of their toil, nor their time, nor their children : every- 
thing belonged to the lord ; and if they were guilty of any fault in 
his sight, they could not invoke, for their defence, any law or authority, 
for the right of seignorial justice, of life and death, was absolute. 

The condition of the freemen, who did not hold fief, and lived on 
seignorial domains, seems to have been equally deplorable. Designated 
as villains, or " roturiers," they hardly enjoyed the right of marrying 
whom they thought proper, or of disposing of their property as they 
pleased. They were gradually crushed by intolerable burdens, or sub- 
jected to humiliating obligations ; -they had not the slightest protec- 
tion, and had incessantly to fear the imposition of some fine or new 
tax, or the confiscation of their goods. A great number of them took 
refuge in the towns, where equally great evils followed them. The 
counts exercised there over them an authority equal to that of the 
seigneurs on their lands ; the tolls and dues of every description were 
infinitely multiplied ; and the towns were eventually subjected, like 
the country, to an arbitrary impost called taille ; they were obliged to 
keep their lord and his people when he came within their walls ; pro- 
visions, furniture, horses, vehicles — in short, everything they possessed 
was taken by main force from the inhabitants, at the caprice of the 
master or his followers, without payment or compensation of any 
kind. In a word, all social force and influence resided in the possessors 
of fiefs, who alone had liberty, power, and enjoyment. 

Such was the system which, under the name of feudalism, weighed 
down Europe for centuries. But it rescued her from the anarchy and 
chaos into which she was plunged, and was the first clumsy attempt 
at social organization made by society itself since the fall of the 
Roman Empire. In this vast system, the hierarchy often only existed 
theoretically ; the stronger contrived to make themselves independent, 
and incalculable evils resulted from this. The territory of Old Graul 
was for a long time a blood-stained arena open to the ambition of 
kings and nobles ; but the want of union among the oppressors finally 
turned to the advantage of the oppressed, who were sustained by the 
royal authority, when the latter, through its conquest over the aristo- 


cracy, prepared new and more happy destinies for France. An impor- 
tant progress toward a better order of things was that which consti- 
tuted a central force, sufficiently powerful to keep all in check, and to 
destroy the tyranny of the lords, and which, by creating a middle 
class between the nobility and the serfs, granted one portion of the 
people the most precious rights of civil liberty. History shows us 
the French advancing to this double goal through long convulsions, 
amid internal discords, and foreign wars. For centuries they ap- 
proached, but did not reach it ; they owed their first progress to the 
providential concurrence of events as much as to their own efforts, 
and these combined causes resulted primarily in the rapid growth of 
the power of the king, the decay of seignorial authority, the restora- 
tion of industry, and the enfranchisement of the people of the towns. 

142 HUGUES CAPET. [Book I. Chap. II. 






On the accession of the third race, France, properly so called, only- 
comprised the territory between the Somme and the Loire ; it was 
bounded by the counties of Flanders and Vermandois on the north ; 
by Normandy and Brittany on the west ; by the Champagne on the 
east ; by the duchy of Aquitaine on the south. The territory within 
these bounds was the duchy of France, the patrimonial possession of 
the Capets, and constituted the royal domain. The great fiefs of the 
crown, in addition to the duchy of France, were the duchy of Nor- 
mandy, the duchy of Burgundy, nearly the whole of Flanders formed 
into a county, the county of Champagne, the duchy of Aquitaine, and 
the county of Toulouse.* We have already seen that the sovereigns 
of these various states were the great vassals of the crown, and peers 
of France, Lorraine, and a portion of Flanders were dependent on 
the Germanic crown, while Brittany was a fief of the duchy of Nor- 

The efforts made by Hugues to reach the throne, which was the 
object of all his wishes, seem to have exhausted his strength, and he 
appears in history less formidable as king than he had been as vassal. 
He had, in the first instance, to conquer Charles of Lorraine, his com- 
petitor ; and he triumphed over him by cunning more than by arms. 
This unhappy prince exclaimed, as he addressed his followers, with 

* The county of Barcelona beyond the Alps was also one of the great fiefs of the crown 
of France. 

987-1108] HUGUES CAPET. 143 

his face bathed in tears, "My age is advancing, and I find myself, 
when in years, despoiled of my patrimony. I cannot, without weeping, 
look upon my young children, the scions of an unfortunate father. 
my friends, come to my succour — come to the help of my children ! ' ' 
He had a momentary hope of regaining his hereditary crown ; he 
made himself master of the city of Laon by the treachery of Arnoul, 
Archbishop of Reims ; but it was soon afterwards torn from him by 
another act of treachery, and he fell into the hands of his rival, who 
threw him into prison^ with his wife and children. Thus the illustrious 
race of Charlemagne expired in Gaul, as far as history is concerned.* 

Hugues Capet, like his first successors, made a close alliance with 
the Church, and found it difficult to maintain in obedience the nobles 
who had raised him to the throne. He contended for a long time 
against Adalbert, Count of Berigard, one of his most obstinate adver- 

"Who made you count?" Hugues asked him angrily, while re- 
proaching him with, his rebellion. 

"And who made you king?" was the haughty answer, which, 
revealed to the King the inconveniences and perils of his situation. 
Hugues next waged a sanguinary war against his vassal, Eudes, Count 
de Chartres. He took from him the town of Melun, and, to complete 
his subjugation, was compelled to unite his forces with tnose of the 
count's worst enemy, Foulques, Count of Anjou. 

One of the most important occupations of this King was the convo- 
cation of synods or councils. The bishops at that time had the greatest 
share in the government of the cities. One of them, the celebrated 
Arnoul of Reims, who, as we have seen, was guilty of treason against 
the King in surrendering the town of Laon to his rival, was summoned 
before a council, and deposed. Pope John XV. quashed this sentence, 
and the clergy signalized their opposition by submitting the papal 
decision to a new council. 

Cruel wars between the great vassals and fearful calamities marked 
the course of this reign, and confirmed the people in the idea that the 
end of the world was at hand. A horrible pestilence ravaged Aqui- 

* Six hundred years later, the ambitious princes of the House of Guise claimed the 
French throne, by appealing to the rights of this same Charles of Lorraine, from whom 
they declared themselves descended. 

-4 ROBERT. [BookI.Chap.II. 

taine and a great part of the kingdom, and so great was the suffering 
of the time, that the expectation of universal destruction inspired 
many hearts with hope rather than fear. The rich and the great, 
sharing in the general belief, lavished immense donations on the 
clergy ; many valiant military chiefs exchanged the sword and cuirass 
for the frock and hair-shirt of the monk ; and Hugues Capet himself 
reigned without wearing the diadem, either because he doubted the 
validity of his royal title, or because he desired to give his people an 
example of humility and respect for sacred things. He continued 
during his whole life to wear the cape as titular abbot of St. Martin 
of Tours. He placed his crown under the safeguard of the Church, 
and during his lifetime caused his son Robert to be crowned, and 
recommended to him, above all things, to guard the treasure of the 
abbeys, and submit himself to the Pope. 

Hugues Capet died in his bed, after a reign of nine years ; he is 
only illustrious as the founder of a new dynasty, and this great event 
must be attributed to circumstances, far more than to his genius. 

The custom of appanages, or territorial gifts, of more or less extent, 
granted to the younger sons of the kings, dates from the accession of 
the third race. These appanages, restricted at the outset, evidently 
embraced entire provinces, and this custom became, ■with them, the 
chief obstacle to the territorial unity of the kingdom. 


Robert was faithful to the pious instructions of his father. This 
King seems, through his rare gentleness and his indulgent kindness, to 
belong to another age. Profoundly moved by the sufferings of his 
people, he appeared to have undertaken the task of relieving the 
wretched by unbounded charity ; and disarming the rigour of Heaven 
by angelic patience, and the practice of the most fervent devotion. 
Many instances of simple and touching goodness are recorded of him. 
A beggar, whom he was feeding with his own hand, stealthily 
removed a fringe of gold from the King's robe, and Queen Constance 
observed the theft. " The man who stole the fringe from me," said 
the good monarch to his wife, " doubtless needs it more than I." On 
another occasion, a thief cut off one half of his cloak while he was 
at prayers : " Leave the rest for another time," said the King, mildly. 

987-1108] HIS SUPERSTITION. 145 

This prince, whose pious zeal equalled his charity, composed sacred 
hymns, sang at the choristers' desk, and directed the choir of St. 
Denis on holy days. 

Among other peculiar traits of his simple superstition, it is recorded 
that he did not believe an oath obligatory, unless made over the relics 
of saint or martyr, to which he offered special worship. In order to 
avoid the sin of a violation of faith, he made those in whose word he 
had no confidence, swear, without knowing it, at a shrine from which 
the relics had been removed ; and when he himself took an oath upon 
this empty shrine, he did not scruple to perjure himself. His fervent 
piety did not protect Robert from ecclesiastical censures ; or from 
the most violent persecutions of the Court of Rome. The laws of the 
Church at that time composed the entire civil legislation : the Popes 
constituted themselves sovereign arbiters of cases in which marriage 
was permitted ; and this displayed a praiseworthy courage in contend- 
ing against the unbridled passions of the kings ; and their firmness 
powerfully contributed towards preserving Christianity from sad dis- 
orders, and possibly from polygamy. But, by an abuse of their authority, 
they carried the prohibition of marriage too far, and proved terrible 
to those who dared to violate their injunctions, which were frequently 
arbitrary and unjust. Excommunication, and the placing of a territory 
under an interdict, were among the means most frequently employed 
by the Pontiffs to compel the submission of sovereigns. No one might 
eat, drink, or pray with an excommunicated person, under penalty of 
being himself excommunicated : when the Pope placed a country under 
interdict, it was forbidden to celebrate divine service, to administer 
the sacraments to adults, or to bury the dead in consecrated ground ; 
the sound of bells ceased, the pictures in churches were covered, and 
the statues of saints were taken down and laid on beds of ashes and 
thorns. The Court of Rome struck at its enemies with these redoubt- 
able weapons, not dealing less rigorously with sovereigns than with 
subjects. King Robert experienced this ; Hugh, his father, disquieted 
by the Normans established at Blois, who had refused to recognize 
him, gained them over by making his son espouse the celebrated 
Bertha, widow of Eudes I. of Blois. This princess possessed claims on 
the kingdom of Burgundy, bequeathed by her brother Rodolph to the 
Empire, and had power to transmit them to the reigning family of 



France. The Einperor Otho III. was alarmed at this, and Pope 
Gregory "V., alleging a degree of relationship against the marriage, 
ordered Robert to leave his wife, and on his refusal, excommunicated 
him. It is recorded that upon this the King was at once abandoned 
by all his servants ; and it was a popular belief, kept up by the monks, 
that Queen Bertha was delivered of a monster. Robert, compelled at 
length to repudiate her, espoused the imperious Constance, daughter 
of the Count of Toulouse. She reigned in his name, having his 
authority, and caused the King's favourite, Hugues of Beauvais, 
to be murdered in his presence. 

Robert, in spite of his habitual gentleness, was an accomplice in the 
cruelties inflicted on the heretics by Constance, twelve of whom were 
ordered before a council held at Orleans under his presidency, and 
sentenced to be burnt alive : amongst them was an ex-confessor of the 
Queen. The King believed that he was doing a pious deed by being" 
present at their punishment ; and Constance, who was standing on the 
road leading to the pyre, put out one of her confessor's eyes with a 
stick as he passed along. This barbarous fanaticism, one of the cha- 
racteristic features of the epoch, lasted for six centuries longer in 
Europe ; and the Jews were, during the greater portion of the time, 
the object of so much execration, that any act of cruelty to them was 
regarded as a meritorious deed. Nearly everywhere they were out- 
raged and plundered with impunity, the people barbarously taking 
vengeance for their own sufferings on these hapless beings, and think- 
ing that they honoured God in persecuting them. 

Victims of the perpetual discords of the nobles, the people saw 
their own crops destroyed and cottages burned : there was for them 
neither rest nor security. Still, the inhabitants of the towns were 
already beginning to endure with reluctance the vexatious tyranny 
of their lords, and to regard with some degree of irritation their 
precarious condition. The cities which had preserved municipal 
institutions invoked old and unappreciated rights ; and in others 
corporations were formed ; the workmen organized a militia, fortified 
their walls, and guarded the gates. Acts of great injustice caused 
resentment, which had been too long repressed, to break out, and 
commotions, which were scarcely recognized, presaged the revolu- 
tions which in the following century brought the enfranchisements 

987-1108] HENEY I. 147 

of the towns. The inexhaustible charity of Robert only afforded an 
almost imperceptible relief for the misfortunes of his people, not rich 
enough to remove their wretchedness, and too weak to put down their 
oppressors. He died in 1031, lamented by the wretched and regretted 
by the clergy, leaving his kingdom augmented by the duchy of Bur- 
gundy,* which he had united to it in 1002, on the death of his uncle, 
Henry the Great. During his reign a wise and learned Frenchman 
succeeded Gregory V. on the pontifical throne, and renewed the 
alliance between the holy see and the house of Capet. This was the 
illustrious Gerbert, who derived from the Moors and the nourishing 
schools of Cordova all the secrets of the sciences then known : he 
studied belles-lettres and algebra, learned the art of clock-making, 
and passed in the eyes of his admiring contemporaries for a magician. 
First preceptor of the sons of the Emperor Otho, then Archbishop of 
Rheims and afterwards of Ravenna, he eventually became Pope, under 
the name of Sylvester II., and exercised the triple authority of the 
pontificate, of learning, and of genius. 


Heney I., the son and successor of Robert, had, at the commencement 
of his reign, to sustain a family war against his mother, Constance, 
who raised her young brother Robert to the throne. The Church 
declared for Henry ; and the celebrated Robert the Magnificent, Duke 
of the Normans, lent him the aid of his sword, and placed the crown 
more firmly on his head. Henry vanquished his brother, forgave him, 
and granted him the duchy of Burgundy, the first Capetian house of 
which was founded by Robert. A famine, during this reign, com- 
mitted such fearful ravages in Gaul, that at several places men were 
seen devouring one another. After this plague, troops of wolves 
devastated the country ; and the feudal lords, more terrible than the 
wild beasts, continued their barbarous wars amid the universal desola- 
tion : the clergy scarce able to induce them to suspend their fury by 

* The duchy of Burgundy, which must not be confounded with the transjuran and 
cisjuran kingdoms of Burgundy, comprised Burgundy proper. From 884 to 1001 this 
duchy belonged to princes allied to the family of Robert the Strong, among whom was 
Eaoul, King of France. Henry the Gfreat, brother of Hugues Capet, was the last mem- 
ber of this ducal branch ; and from 1001 to 1032 his states remained annexed to the 
kingdom of France. 

L 2 


threatening the judgments of Heaven, and by asserting a multitude of 
miracles. At length, the councils ordered all to lay down their arms : 
they published, in 1035, the Peace of God, and menaced with excom- 
munication those who violated so holy a law. When in each province 
a council had established this peace, a deacon announced the fact to 
the people assembled in the churches ; and after reading the Gospel, 
he went up into the pulpit, and uttered the following malediction 
against all who infringed the peace : " May they be accursed, they, 
and those who assist them to do evil ! may their arms and their 
horses be accursed ! may they be allotted a place with Cain, the 
fratricide, the traitor Judas, and Dathan and Abiram, who entered 
alive into hell ! and may their joy be extinguished at the aspect of the 
holy angels, just as these torches are- extinguished before your eyes ! " 
At these words, all the priests, who held lighted torches in their 
hands, turned them against the ground, and extinguished them ; while 
the people, struck with horror, repeated, in one voice, " May God 
thus extinguish the joy of those who will not accept peace and 
justice ! " 

But passions were too impetuous, ambitions too indomitable, for 
the evil to be thus totally uprooted. The "Peace of God " multiplied 
the sacrilege without diminishing the number of assassinations. Five 
years later, another law, known as the Truce of God, was substituted 
for it. The councils that proclaimed this new peace no longer at- 
tempted to arrest the working of all human passions ; but tried to 
regulate and subject war to the laws of honour and humanity. An 
appeal to force was no longer prohibited to those who could invoke no 
other law ; but the employment of this force was subjected to wise and 
salutary restrictions. From sunset on Wednesday until sunrise on 
Monday, as well as on festival and fast days, military attack and the 
effusion of blood were prohibited, and a perpetual safeguard was 
granted to the churches, and to unarmed clerks and monks : the pro- 
tection of the truce extended to the peasants, flocks, and instruments 
of labour. This wise and beneficent lav/, which was first promulgated 
in Aquitaine, was adopted throughout nearly the whole of Gaul, 
where the nobles swore to observe it, and although it was frequently 
violated, and fell too soon into desuetude, it was a great benefit to 
the nation, whose manners it softened, and was the noblest work of 

987-1108] PHILIP i. 149 

the clergy in the middle ages. The rumour was propagated that a 
horrible disease, called the " sacred fire," was inflicted upon all who 
broke the " Truce of God." The weak King Henry, through an insen- 
sate pride, was almost the only one who in his states refused to 
recognize the Truce, under the pretext that the clergy encroached 
upon his authority by attempting to establish it. 

This king has left no honourable recollection in history. It is said 
that, fearing lest he might unconsciously marry a woman related to 
him by blood, he sought a wife at the extremity of Europe, and that 
this motive led him to choose as his third wife the Princess Anne, 
daughter of Jaroslas, Grand Duke of Russia. # He had three sons 
by this marriage, the eldest of whom, Philip,f he caused to be crowned 
during his life. Henry I. carried on an unsuccessful war against his 
vassal, William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and died in 1060, 
after a reign of twenty-nine years. 


Philip, at the age of eight years, succeeded his father under the 
guardianship of Baldwin V., Count of Flanders. The great event of 
his reign, and with which he was entirely unconnected, was the con- 
quest of England. 

The Norman knights were distinguished from all others by their 
immoderate desire for martial adventure, and by their brilliant 
exploits. Some of them, who had landed sixty years previously as 
pilgrims on the southern coast of Italy, aided the inhabitants of 
Salerno to repulse a Saracen army of besiegers. Animated by the 
success of their countrymen, the sons of a simple gentleman, Tancred 
of Hauteville, followed by a band of adventurers, conquered the pro- 
vince of Apulia from the Greeks, the Lombards, and the Arabs, and 
sustained successfully an equal struggle against the Emperors of 
Germany and Byzantium. They took prisoner the German Pope, 

* The Russian nation, which had only been converted to Christianity for a century, 
was composed of almost savage tribes scattered over an immense territory. Still, its two 
capitals, Kief and Novogorod, already contained the germs of a highly advanced 

•f It has been asserted that this name, which appears for the first time in the history of 
France, originated in a presumed connection between the Princess Anne and Philip of 
Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. 


Leo IX., who was devoted to tlie family of the Emperor Henry III., 
and hiimbliiig themselves before their captive, they obtained leave to 
retain their conquest as a fief of the Church. Robert Guiscard com- 
pleted the subjugation of Apulia and Calabria, and his brother 
Roger conquered Sicily : it was thus that the kingdom of the two 
Sicilies was founded in 1052 by the Normans, and the Pope became 
its suzerain. 

Nothing was talked of in Europe but the valour of the Normans ; 
and when "William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and son of 
Robert the Magnificent, collected an army to conquer England, war- 
riors flocked beneath his banners from all sides, full of confidence 
in his fortune. Great Britain, or England, which had been for several 
centuries subject to the Saxons, obeyed at this time King Harold, 
successor of Edward, surnamed the Confessor. A tempest had cast 
Harold, before he became king, on the coast of Normandy, and he 
was delivered up to Duke William, in accordance with the custom of 
the times, shipwrecked men being regarded as abandoned by the judg- 
ment of Heaven to the lord of the coast on which the tempest drove 
them, who could keep them captive, and even put them to torture, 
in order to obtain a ransom. William, when master of Harold's 
person, made him swear that he would help him, after the death of 
Edward, to obtain the kingdom of England ; but Harold did not 
afterwards consider himself bound by an oath which had been extorted 
by violence. When, therefore, the throne of England became vacant, 
and Harold, succeeding to it, had been crowned, William reminded 
Harold of his promise, and appealed to a true or false will of Edward 
the Confessor in support of his claim, declaring at the same time that 
he would leave the matter to the decision of the Church. A consistory 
held at the Lateran pronounced in his favour, and, on the instigation 
of the monk Hildebrand, adjudged England to him, by sending him, 
together with a consecrated standard, the diploma of sovereign of that 
country. A great battle, fought in 1066 near Hastings, between the 
rivals to the English crown, decided the war. Harold lost his life in it, 
and England, after an obstinate contest, became a conquest of the Nor- 
mans. William distributed all the estates as fiefs to his knights ; and 
from this time feudalism spread over this country the net- work with 
which it already covered France, Germany, and Italy. A few years after- 

987-1108] THE MONK HILDEBRAND. 151 

wards a prince of the house* of France, Henry of Burgundy, founded 
the kingdom of Portugal, after a long series of victories gained oyer 
the infidels. These great events inflamed minds, and disposed the 
nations for adventurous expeditions in remote countries : they were 
the precursors of the crusades, or wars undertaken for the deliverance 
of the Holy Land. 

A revolution, of which the celebrated Hildebrand was the principal 
author, was at this time accomplished in the Church. The tenth cen- 
tury more especially had been for her a period of desolation ; the see 
of St. Peter had become the prey of intrigue and violence : and these 
disorders were not the only evils that afflicted the Church. Prom the 
time the clergy, in order to defend their domains, had hastened to 
enter the feudal hierarchy, they had been bound down by the autho- 
rity of the princes and their great vassals. Nearly all the bishops of 
Prance held fiefs of the crown, and in the course of the eleventh cen- 
tury there was an odious traffic in ecclesiastical lands and dignities, 
which were not given, as formerly, to the most worthy, but to the 
highest bidder. The Pope himself, who at that epoch was chosen by 
the clergy and the people, was constrained to demand of the Emperor 
of Germany, as successor of Charlemagne, the confirmation of his 
election, and the Emperor Henry III., taking advantage of the intes- 
tine divisions among the Romans, claimed the sole right of nominating 
and appointing the successors of St. Peter. Such was the situation of 
the Church towards the middle of the eleventh century. Nicholas II., 
who had just ascended the pontifical seat, had as councillor a monk 
who felt indignant at the vices of the ecclesiastics, the degrada- 
tion of the Church, and the encroachments of the temporal power 
on the spiritual authority. This monk, this man so celebrated in 
religious history, was Hildebrand. He resolved to deprive the feudal 
lords of every species of influence over the clergy, to strengthen the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy, and to raise the Pope above the kings of the 
earth, hoping thus to enable the Church to recover her efficiency, her 
splendour, and all her power. Such a prospect of universal supremacy 
was, in the age of Hildebrand, a conception of genius. This great 
man had consulted the spirit of his age. The rights of humanity 
were nowhere respected ; the nations, oppressed by a thousand 
tyrants, had no other representatives, and no other natural defenders, 


than tlie clergy. Most of the members of this order come from the 
lower classes ; and ecclesiastical dignities, and even the tiara itself, 
were often bestowed on men of the most obscure birth ; so that the 
voice of the Church combating the temporal power might, to some 
extent, be regarded as the energetic protest of the people against their 
oppressors. There was merit and grandeur, under the feudal des- 
potism, in determining to regenerate the world on a Christian basis, 
by giving it as guide the man who was universally recognized as the 
visible chief of Christianity. Hildebrand's honour consists in having 
re- animated religious enthusiasm by attempting to enfranchise the 
spiritual authority of the Church from all temporal servitude ; his 
error consisted in having listened too much to his own ambition, in 
attempting to render the political government of the princes subser- 
vient to the ecclesiastical authority. 

Many priests and bishops contracted, by marriage, ties which ren- 
dered them dependent on the princes. Nicholas broke those ties : he 
forbade the marriage of priests, and severely punished monks living 
in a state of concubinage. 

Hildebrand was chosen in 1073, by the people and clergy of Rome, 
as the successor of Pope Alexander III. At first, he deferentially asked 
his confirmation of the Emperor Henry IY., and when he had obtained 
it, he displayed under the name of Gregory VII. his vast and haughty 
genius and his inflexible character. He withdrew the nomination of 
the Popes from the influence of the Emperors by establishing the Col- 
lege of Cardinals, specially entrusted with the election of the Pontiff: 
he renewed the bull condemning the marriage of priests ; he prohi- 
bited emperors, kings, and the great vassals from giving ecclesiastical 
investitures to bishops ; and, finally, he published the famous decretals 
known by the name of Dictatus J?apce, in which he placed among the 
papal privileges those of deposing emperors, of making monarchs kiss 
his feet, of judging without appeal, and of being made holy by the 
mere fact of ordination. 

Philip I., King of Prance, and Henry IV., Emperor of Germany, 
were both leading at this time a life full of scandal and violence ; 
and in order to supply their unbounded extravagance, they carried on, 
in defiance of Gregory's prohibition, the most disgraceful traffic in 
Church endowments. The indignant Pontiff threatened Philip with 

987-1108] DEATH OF GEEGOEY VII. 153 

excommunication, and laid it upon the Emperor. An obstinate war 
began between them, which is known in history by the name of " The 
War of Investitures," because the Pope maintained by it his prohibition 
of princes investing bishops, and reserved that right solely for himself. 
In this celebrated war the principal allies of the Pontiff were the 
Normans of Apulia and Sicily, and the Countess Matilda, sovereign of 
Tuscany. Gregory VII. liberated the subjects of Henry from the 
oath of allegiance ; and the Emperor, abandoned by them, found him- 
self reduced to implore pardon of his haughty victor : he presented 
himself as a suppliant in the month of January, 1077, at the Castle of 
Canossa, the residence of the Pope, who insulted his misfortune, and, 
before granting absolution to him, compelled the Emperor to remain 
for three days and nights in a court of the palace, exposed to the 
severe cold, with his bare feet in the snow. At length he deigned to 
absolve him. But so many outrages had revolted the crowned heads 
and moved the partisans of the Emperor with indignation. Henry IY. 
avenged himself, and Gregory VII. died in exile. The colossal edifice 
raised by this Pontiff did not perish with him ; his successors con- 
solidated it amid terrible upheavals in the Empire and the Church : 
he had founded the universal monarchy of the Popes on a durable 
basis, on the ruling spirit of his age, and this supremacy attained one 
hundred years afterwards its culminating point. The Crusades con- 
tributed greatly to its consolidation ; Gregory conceived the idea, but 
it was not given to him to see its accomplishment : the first of those 
memorable events had its origin in the time of Philip I., and under the 
Pontificate of Urban II. 

Palestine, or the Holy Land, held for many ages by the Mussulmans, 
had been one of the first victories of the disciples of Mahomet, and 
henceforward the subjugation of that country had been a theme of 
indignation and sorrow to Christendom. It was believed that an 
especial sanctity was attached to the places where Christ had suffered 
death for mankind, and where his tomb was yet to be seen. The pil- 
grimage to Jerusalem was regarded as the most effectual means for the 
expiation of sins ; and great numbers of pilgrims journeyed, alone or 
in bands, to Palestine, to pray at the tomb of the Saviour. Already 
adventurous knights, after seeking through Europe new fields for their 
valour, had carried defiance to the Mussulman ; but most of these had 

154 PETER THE HEEMIT. [Book I. Chap. II. 

been slain, only a few returned to Europe, where the recital of their 
perils, and of their glorious deeds of arms, filled every soul with an 
ardent and pious emulation. 

Such was the public disposition of feeling, when an enthusiast, known 
as Peter the Hermit, quitted the town of Amiens, his native place, 
to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The sight of the holy places 
excited to the highest degree his pious fervour : he returned to Europe 
and repaired to Italy. There he exhorted Pope Urban II. to place 
himself at the head of the nations of Europe, conjoined for the 
deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre, and the rescue of the bones of the 
Saints from the hands of the Mussulmans. 

He won over the Pontiff to his views, and received from him letters 
to all the Christian princes, with the mission of stimulating them to 
this holy enterprise. Peter travelled throughout Europe ; he inflamed 
the imagination of the nobles and the people, he preached to them 
salvation, and promised them Paradise if they would go to Palestine. 
Two years later, in 1095, a council, convoked by Urban, assembled at 
Clermont, in Auvergne. A prodigious number of princes and nobles 
of all ranks flocked thither, and three hundred and ten bishops sup- 
ported the solemnity under the presidency of the Pope himself. After 
having decided clerical affairs, Urban drew a pathetic picture of the 
desolation of the holy shrines, he lamented bitterly the afflictions 
suffered by the Christians of Palestine, and the listening throng burst 
into sobs and tears. 

The Pontiff next recounted the audacity and insolence of the 
enemies of Christ, and, indignant at such outrages, exclaimed in the 
tone of inspiration : " Enrol yourselves under the banners of God ; 
advance, sword in hand, like true children of Israel, into the Land of 
Promise ; charge boldly, and doubt not that, opening a path through 
the armies of the infidels and the numbers of their host, the Cross 
will ever be victorious for the Crusader. Make yourselves masters of 
those fertile lands which infidels have usurped ; drive out thence heresy 
and impiety ; in short, make their land to produce palms only for you, 
and out of their spoils raise magnificent trophies to Griory, Religion, 
and the French nation." 

At these words the transport was general, his hearers quivered with 
indignation, and impatiently desired to arm at once — at once to 


987-1108] THE FIRST CRUSADE. 155 

depart : — " Let us go," said the whole assembly: " it is the will of God ! 
it is the will of God ! " 

"Go then," replied the Pontiff: " go, brave champions of Jesus 
Christ, avenge His wrong ; and, since all together have cried, ' It 
is the will of God ! ' let those words be the battle-cry of your holy 

The distinctive sign, common to all these warriors, was a cross of red 
cloth worn on the right shoulder, and from this was derived the word 
" Crusade.'''' The princes and nobles received such crosses from the 
hands of the Pope ; the people came in a crowd, and the cardinals and 
bishops distributed them with their benedictions : to take the Cross 
was to vow to make the sacred journey. 

The Crusaders separated to prepare for departure and to communicate 
to all their pious ardour. The general meeting of the ardent host was 
fixed for the spring of the following year. The enthusiasm extended 
to every class, each one desired to merit salvation by devoting himself 
to a desperate undertaking, by essaying an adventurous life in unknown 
lands. An immense number of serfs, peasants, homeless wanderers, 
and even women and children, assembled together, and their impatience 
could brook neither obstacles nor delays ; they divided into two bands, 
led, the one by Peter the Hermit, the other by a knight named " "Walter 
the Moneyless." Their fanatic zeal displayed itself on the way by 
a general massacre of the Jews. They devastated for their support 
the countries which they passed through, raising up in arms against 
themselves the outraged populations ; and almost all perished of famine, 
fatigue, and misery before reaching the Holy Land. 

Notwithstanding, the flower of European chivalry took up arms for 
the Cross, the nobles pawned their property to defray the expenses 
of the enterprise ; they divided themselves into three formidable 
armies : the first was commanded by Robert Curt-Hose, son of 
William the Conqueror, the second by Godfrey de Bouillon, the hero 
of his age, the third and last marched under the banner of the Count 
of Toulouse, Raymond de Saint- Gilles. Godfrey was proclaimed 
commander-in-chief; ten thousand knights followed him with seventy 
thousand men on foot from France, Lorraine, and Germany ; the 
general muster was at Constantinople, where reigned Alexis Com- 
nenus. This Emperor received them with discourtesy, and hastened 


to give them vessels to cross the Bosphorus, after having cunningly 
obtained from them the oath of homage for their future conquests. 
The Crusaders first possessed themselves of Mcea, then of Antioch, 
through sanguinary struggles, and at length achieved the conquest of 

In 1099, a Christian kingdom was founded in Palestine : Godfrey de 
Bouillon was its recognized king, but contented himself with the title of 
"Baron of the Holy Sepulchre." Feudalism was organized in the 
East ; three great fiefs of the crown of Jerusalem were created : there 
were the principalities of Antioch and Edessa, and the Earldom of 
Tripoli ; they had a Marquis of Jaffa, a Prince of Galilee, a Baron of 
Sidon, and the name of " Franks " became in Asia an appellation 
common to all Eastern Christians: Such were the principal facts of 
that first and celebrated Crusade. There only returned to Europe 
one- tenth of the number who quitted it. 

Philip I. did not associate himself with that expedition. He took 
no part in the great enterprises which signalized the age in which he 
lived, and his reign offers nothing worthy of record. In 10 72, the 
widow of his tutor, Baldwin, Count of Flanders, having been deposed 
by her son Robert le Trison, had recourse to Philip ; the king took up 
arms for her, marched against Robert, and suffered an ignominious 
defeat before Cassel. He also carried on a war for twelve years against 
William the Conqueror, which was not marked by any memorable 
event. William gained over the councillors and partisans of Philip 
by offering them the bribe of large estates in England. Philip, on his 
side, promised protection to all the Norman malcontents, and espoused 
the cause of Robert, eldest son of William, in rebellion against his 
father. After a truce, and during an illness of the duke, he derided 
him on account of his excessive stoutness, asking when he expected 
his accouchement. William heard of it, and furious, swore that at his 
" churching " he would send him ten thousand lances in place of 
tapers. He assembled a formidable army, and carried fire and sword 
through Philip's dominions, but at the sack of Mantes his horse 
stumbled, and the rider was wounded in the fall. They carried 
William in a dying condition to Rouen, where he expired in 1087. He 
was scarcely dead when the nobles who surrounded him left hastily for 
their castles ; his servants pillaged his valuables, carried off even the 

987-11081 DEATH OF PHILIP 1. 157 

funeral bed, and left the naked body of the Conqueror on the floor. A 
poor knight found it in that condition, and touched by compassion 
undertook the care of the funeral rites for the love of God and the 
honour of his nation. The body was put into a coffin at his expense and 
transported to Caen, where it was to be buried in a church founded by 
William himself. At the moment when the funeral oration was being 
pronounced, and the body about to be lowered into the grave, a Norman 
named Asseline advanced, and said : — " This ground belongs to me ; 
that man whose eulogy you are pronouncing robbed me of it. Here, 
even here, stood my paternal mansion ; this man seized it against all 
justice, and without paying the price of it. In the name of God, I 
forbid you to cover the body of the plunderer with earth that belongs 
to me." 

Notable example of the vanity of an existence which offers the most 
singular mixture of grandeur and iniquity, of violent barbarities and 
useful and fruitful creations ! This William, the conqueror of a great 
kingdom, who had grasped immense domains in a strange country, only 
obtained through pity a grave upon his native soil ; those who assisted 
at his burial were obliged to put down the price of it on his coffin. 
None of his three sons paid him the last duties, but they made 
furious war over his heritage ; William Rufus succeeded him in 
England, and ended by seizing upon Normandy, while Robert was 
fighting in Palestine. 

The death of the redoubtable William was a great source of joy to 
Philip, and allowed him to continue his indolent and scandalous career. 
He had married Bertha, the daughter of Count Plorent of Holland ; he 
left and imprisoned her ; afterwards he carried off Bertrade, the wife 
of Foulque le Rechin, Count of Anjou, and married her. Pope Urban 
ordered the dissolution of this marriage, and on the refusal of Philip, 
a council, assembled at Autun in 1094, sentenced him to excommunica- 
tion. Philip was not permitted to carry longer the outward marks of 
royalty : he was afflicted with grievous infirmities, in which he recog- 
nized the hand of God; at length, in the year 1100, he associated 
his son Louis with himself in the kingdom, and reigned only in name. 
A dreadful fear of hell seized him ; he renounced through humility the 
regal privilege of being interred in the tomb of the kings at St. Denis, 
and died in 1108 in the habit of a Benedictine friar. 


The extent of the royal possessions, properly speaking, varied little 
under the first Capets : its limits were those of the ancient duchy of 
France. The authority of the King was not exercised freely and 
directly, except in his quality of Duke of France, and only in some of 
the cities of that duchy ; and between these even the communications 
were difficult. The great fiefs of the crown to the number of seven 
were the same as under Hugh Capet, the duchy of France, to the pos- 
session of which the royal title was attached, the duchies of Normandy, 
of Burgundy, and of Guienne or Aquitaine, and the baronies of Flan- 
ders, Champagne, and Toulouse ; to these great states must be added, 
beyond the Pyrenees, the barony of Barcelona.* The seven great fiefs 
held each in their tenure inferior fiefs, of whom many were themselves 
very considerable. 

The duchy of France had for its principal fiefs the baronies of Paris 
and Orleans, the barony of Maine, and that of Anjou. 

From the duchy of Normandy arose the barony of Britanny, those 
of Alencon, Aumale, Evreux, Mortain, and many other great 

The duchy of Burgundy held in its tenure the baronies of Bar, 
Nevers, Charolais, &c. 

Upon the vast duchy of Guienne or Aquitaine were dependent the 
duchy of Gascoigne, the baronies of Berry, Poitiers, Marche, Angouleme, 
and Perigord, &c. 

The barony of Flanders comprised Ponthieu, Artois, Hainault, &c. 

The barony of Champagne, which in 1019 annexed the vast 
possessions of the counts of Vermandois, comprised under its tenure 
the baronies of Meaux, Troyes, Blois, Chartres, Valois, Rhethel, &c. 

The barony of Toulouse comprised within itself the baronies of 
Quercy and Romagne, the marquisate of Provence, detached from the 
ancient kingdom of Aries, and which received also the name of the 
barony of Venaissin. The Seven Great Fiefs became the viscounty 
of Narbonne, &c. 

All the fiefs of the lower order had themselves in their tenure many 

* Brittany and Anjou have often "been declared as being fiefs to the crown under the 
early Capetian kings. This is an error. Brittany was directly allied to the duchy of 
Normandy, and Anjou to the duchy of France. Philip I. received direct homage from 
the Count of Anjou, not as King, but as Duke of France. 


" arriere fiefs," which mostly consisted of " vicomtes des villes," 
"baronnies," " chatellenies," each one containing parishes or villages ; 
below these fiefs we find those of simple possessors of chateaux. 

The clergy possessed of itself a great number of very important 
fiefs. The archbishops and bishops were lords of the city, or part of 
the city where their seat was situated, and suzerains of many con- 
siderable baronies and seigniories. Many abbots at length were 
lords of the cities where their monastery raised its head, and possessed 
also other seigniories. The abbots of St. Germain, of St. Genevieve, 
and of St. Yictor, were each one suzerain ofa" quarter" of Paris. The 
abbot of Fecamp possessed ten baronies, that of St. Martin de Tours 
had twenty thousand serfs on his domains. And one may gain an 
idea of the immensity of the ecclesiastical possessions in the twelfth 
century, when we know that at that time France counted about 2,000 
monasteries on her soil. 






The reign of Philip I. and of his immediate predecessors had been 
, nothing; but one long 1 * anarchy ; vet France had not re- 

Accession of ° ° * ' •> 

Loms vi. 1108. mained stationary, she had made great progress at the 
end of the eleventh century. Her cities were more numerous, more 
populous, more industrious. Her citizen class began to enfranchise 
itself, and defended its liberties by force of arms. The language and 
poetry of France arose ; at length, the clergy encouraged with all their 
power the progress of literary and scientific instruction ; they crowned 
v/ith rewards and raised to the highest dignity those who dis- 
tinguished themselves by their learning ; but the studies of this age 
consisted solely of subtle discussions on logic and theology. 

The earlier of the Capetian kings had remained ignorant of, and 
almost indifferent to, the progress of France under their rule, and had 
outwardly exercised no personal influence. Louis VI., nicknamed at 
first L'Eveille, afterwards Le Grros and Le Batailleur, understood best 
the spirit of his times. He was the first knight in his kingdom, and it 
was with casque on head and lance in rest that he sought and won 
the esteem of every one. His personal estates, almost confined to the 
cities of Paris, Orleans, Etamps, Melun, Compeigne and their terri- 
tories, were bordered on the north by those of Robert le Jerosolymitain, 
Count of Flanders, and on the east by the estates of Hugues I., Count 
of Champagne. The dominions of Thibaut, Count of Meaux, Chartres 
and Blois, and those of Foulque V., Count of Anjou and Touraine, 
closed in on the south this feeble kingdom of France, which the vast 
possessions of Henry I., son of William the Conqueror, King of 
England and Duke of Normandy, confined on the west. During the 


whole of his life Louis liad to contend with these powerful enemies, 
of whom the most formidable was Henry I. After a aj _ * , . 

J Stnig-prle ot 

preliminary struggle, unfruitful in any important result, Louis vi. against 
as to the possession of the Castle of Gisors, he em- of El) o' laud - 
braced against Henry the cause of his nephew William Clinton, the 
son of Robert Curt-Hose, and dispossessed, as was his father, of the 
duchy of Normandy. Louis YI. was vanquished at the battle of 
Brennevilie, fought in 1119. He made an appeal also to the militia of 
the cities and of the Church, and found them disposed to second him ; 
the prelates ordered the inferior clergy to summon their parishioners 
to arms, and these, led by their pastors, ranged themselves under the 
royal standard, and entered with Louis "VI. into Normandy, where 
they committed great ravages. A council was assembled at Bheims, 
under the presidency of Pope Calixtus II. , with the intention of 
putting an end to this ruinous war. Louis presented himself there 
and recited his grievances. The conditions of peace were decided 
by the council. Henry was to remain in possession of Normandy, for 
which his son should render homage to the King of France. 

Besides this important war, Louis le Gros sustained an almost 
incessant contest against his own barons, and amongst , Tr . , 

o ' o War against 

others against Thomas de Maries, son of Enguerrand de lus vassals - 
Coucy. They infested like brigands the roads around Paris and 
Orleans, pillaging villages and destroying the traders. The King, b} r 
force of arms, reduced a great number of them to obedience, or at 
least rendered them powerless for evil, thus securing public safety in 
his dominions. But such was the weakness at this period of a King of 
France, that Philip I. had all his life vainly endeavoured to seize on 
the castle of the sire de Monthery, six leagues from the capital. This 
baron was stained with the crime of brigandage, and very 're doubtable. 
Louis le Gros overcame him in his stronghold, and reunited it by this 
change of owners to the seigniory of his territories. 

The King associated his elder son Philip with himself in the govern- 
ment. This young prince, who gave bright promise, was killed acci- 
dentally, and the King substituted for him his second son Louis, 
surnamed the Young. He continued without success his war against 

o - o 

Henry I., who died in 1135. A sanguinary struggle ensued for the 
succession to that prince's crown between Stephen of Boulogne, his, 



nephew, and his daughter Margaret, widow of the Emperor Henri V., 
and married a second time to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Connt of Anjon, 
the founder of the celebrated house of Plantagenet which reigned so 
long in England. William X., the powerful Duke of Aquitaine and 
Count of Poitou, supported the pretensions of Geoffrey, and with him 
carried fire and sword through Normandy, but returned covered with 
the maledictions of the people. William, overcome by remorse, under- 
Marriageof took a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella, jlu 

■with S Eieanor U of S Spain, and offered his daughter Eleanor to Louis, son of 

quuame. ^g ]^i n g f France. This alliance promised to double 

the estates of the King, who hastened to conclude it ; he sent his son 
into Aquitaine with a brilliant cortege, and the marriage was cele- 
Death of brated between the solemnisation of two funerals ; — that 

Louis vi. 1137. f William X., who sank on his pilgrimage, and that 
of Louis le Gtos, who died the same year, in 1137. 

We observe in this reign, and more especially after the battle of 
Brenneville, that the alliance of the King with the Church and with the 
commons of the kingdom becomes apparent. The support of the King 
was necessary to the Church and the rising bourgeoisie, to enable them 
to resist the oppression of the feudal nobility. It was to this com- 
munity of interests that the kings of France owed in a great measure, 
firstly, the preservation of their crown, and subsequently their influence 
and their conquests. The sanction, accorded by Louis "VI. to the 
enfranchisements of many communes, illustrated the spirit of his reign.* 
Nevertheless he did nothing but legitimize revolutions already accom- 
plished, almost always sanctioning, under condition of a pecuniary 
compensation, arrangements or treaties concluded between the nobles 
and bourgeoisie ; sometimes even, as we may see in the quarrel between 
the commune of Laon with its bishop, after having sold to the 
bourgeoisie for a heavy sum certain privileges, he would receive money 
from their seigneurs for permitting the latter to revoke them. On this 
occasion the inhabitants 'of the village revolted, murdered their lord, 
their bishop, and sought the support of the renowned Thomas de Maries, 
who defended them for some time against the King, and finished by 
falling with them. Louis VI. in his conduct towards the bourgeoisie of 
the cities was in no way actuated by zeal for the public liberty, he cared 

* For an account of the condition of the commons in the twelfth century, see Chap. VI. 

1108-1179] ACCESSION OP LOUIS VIJ". 163 

only for the needs of his treasury, which was recruited in this manner, 
and for the interests of his power, which continued to increase up to the 
time of his death, especially in the centre of France, where the royal 
authority had before him been almost disregarded, and where he 
caused it to be respected. He did not care to accord, within his own 
dominions, those privileges which he ratified on the territories of 
others, and we can recognize in him neither the founder of the liberties 
of the people, nor an enemy to the privileges of the nobility. An 
illustrious man, the Abbe Suger, acquired at this period er Abb - of 
a reputation as a statesman, a great politician, and a St - Dems - 
profound scholar ; he obtained by his individual merit the celebrated 
abbacy of St. Denis, the sanctuary of the first patron-saint of the 
kingdom,* and was in the following reign charged with the regency of 
the State. 


Louis VII., surnamed the Young, exhibited on ascending the throne 
a spirit as warlike as his father. He supported Geoffrev * 

r rr J Accession of 

Plantagenet against his rival Stephen, and aided him JjjStSthe 
to conquer Normandy, for which Geoffrey did homage. Youn s> 1137 - 
England remained to Stephen, who recognized the son of Geoffrey and 
Matilda as heir to his crown. Louis kept the barons and the clergy 
in order : he opposed the usurpations of Pope Innocent II., and re- 
fused to recognize the Archbishop of Bourges, elected by that Pontiff, 
"who soon laid an interdict on every place where the King stayed. 
Louis the Young was the fourth Oapetian King thus struck at by the 
Holy See. No family had shown more deference towards the Court 
of Home, none had been treated by her with more rigour. 

The most memorable event of this reign is the second Crusade, 
preached with immense success by Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 
and commanded by the King in person. Louis believed that he had a great 
crime to expiate : in a war with Thibaut, Count of Champagne, his sol- 

* " Montjoie et Saint Denis !" was for a lengthened period the war-cry of the French ; 
the banner tinder which the vassals of the abbey fought became the national standard. 
Louis the Fat and his successor took it from the altar on which it reposed when setting 
forth upon an expedition, and returned it thence in pomp at the conclusion of the war. 
It bore the name of " oriflamme," because the staff was covered with gold, whilst the 
edge of the flag was cut into the form of names. 

M 2 


diers liad set fire to the church of Vitry, and thirteen hundred persons 
Mas=acre of perished in the flames. Terrified at this frightful disaster, 

7 " he asked for absolution from the Pope, and only succeeded 

in obtaining it from Celestin II., successor to Innocent. It effected 
but little towards calming his conscience. Edessa in Palestine had 
succumbed to the arms of the Sultan Zinghi. Nothing was heard 
of throughout Christendom but the fall of this famous city and the 
massacre of its inhabitants ; exclamations of fury and of vengeance 
arose on all sides. France was the first to be convulsed by the voice 
-, „ , of Saint Bernard, and communicated the movement to 

Second Crusade, ' 

1147 * Europe. Louis VII. took up the Cross, and asked per- 

mission to depart from Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis, from whom, by 
a singular effect of the feudal system, he held Vexin in fief, and 
received from his hands the oriflamme ; he confided to him the 
regency of the kingdom and went forth on his journey at the head 
of a hundred thousand French. But here ended his reputation 
as king and knight. Conrad, Emperor of Germany, who had pre- 
ceded him with a formidable army, was treacherously led by Greek 
guides to Asia Minor ; his troops being surprised and annihilated 
amongst the defiles of Lycaonia. Louis VII. gathered together 
the remnants of the host, but himself lost the half of his own forces 
on the mountain of Laodicea. He fruitlessly undertook many enter- 
prises, each of which was marked by a disaster ; in fine, the whole of 
the expedition of Louis VII. was reduced, as far as he was concerned, 
to a pious pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre. He returned to Europe 
w T ith the Crusader princes, and brought back with him only a few 
soldiers. His entire host had been annihilated. 

Louis found his kingdom at peace, indeed almost flourishing, thanks 
to the wise administration of the great and modest Suger. But the 
deplorable result of that Crusade, for which he had laid a heavy tax on 
his people, had destroyed all the King's popularity, even his charactei' 
seemed weakened by it, and from that time history sees in him less of 
the king than of the monk. Under pretext of too near blood relationship 
. T . he divorced his Queen, Eleanor, who, thus abandoned, 

Divorce of Louis ^ ' 

o?a rnitaiX an0r £> ave ner nan( ^ to Henry Plantagenet, heir to the crown 
1152, of England, and carried to him her dowry of Aquitaine, 

taken away from France by this fatal divorce. Louis saw with 

1108-1179] RISE OF THOMAS A BECKET. 165 

emotion the half of his territories about to pass to his rival, and 
sought in vain to throw obstacles in the way of the marriage. The 
new husband of Eleanor succeeded Stephen on the throne of England, 
and became the celebrated Henry II. He conquered Ireland, menaced 
Scotland, and showed himself on the Continent the most redoubtable 
and powerful of sovereigns. He possessed in France Anjou, Maine, 
Touraine, Aquitaine, and Normandy. He professed great friendship 
toward Louis the Young, and united in marriage his son, seven years 
of age, to the daughter of Louis, still in her cradle. War broke out 
on the subject of the dowry of this princess, and suddenly Louis 
obtained a powerful auxiliary in the clergy of England, excited 
against Henry II. by the famous Thomas a. Becket, Arch- 

Stvu^srle between 

bishop of Canterbury. This prelate, at first a courtier, Hemyand 

n n T7-. n T-i -i • Thomas a Becket. 

afterwards chancellor of the King of England, and in- 
tended by him to occupy, as his creature, the first episcopal seat of his 
kingdom, scarcely found himself therein, when he surrendered the 
pleasures of the court for the austere duties which he regarded as 
inseparable from his new position. He took in hand and maintained to 
his death the defence of the cause which Gregory VII. had defended to 
the last extremity — that of the spiritual authority as opposed to the 
regal ; and while Pope Alexander III. barely held his own against the 
anti-Pope Victor, and against the powerful Frederick Barbarossa, Em- 
peror of Germany, a Becket constituted himself in the West the most 
intrepid champion of the Church, of which Henry II., by the edict of 
Clarendon, violated the privileges in suppressing ecclesiastical tribunals 
and the benefit of clergy. These privileges gave rise, no doubt, to nume- 
rous abuses and insured immunity to many culprits, but such were the 
barbarous ignorance and odious corruption of the lay tribunals in the 
twelfth century, that ecclesiastical jurisdiction alone inspired some 
confidence in the people, and the least heavy yoke was that of the 

A Becket, pursued by the resentment of Henry II., took refuge in 
France, where Louis received him with great favour, and the war con- 
tinued between the two kings until the peace of Montmirail. Thomas 
a Becket returned to England, and Henry exclaimed one day in a 
transport of fury : " Will none of the cowards whom I support rid me 
of this priest? " These words were heard • four knights, devoted to 


the King, assassinated Thomas a Becket at the foot of he altar. 
Death of Thomas There was an universal cry of malediction throughout 

a Becket 1172. 

the Church against the homicidal monarch, and the 
martyred and canonized prelate became more baleful to Henry II. 
after his death than he had ever been during his life. Every one 
turned with horror from the King, who, to appease the public clamour, 
submitted to a humiliating penance. Then was seen the most 
renowned prince in Christendom exhibiting tokens of the humblest 
contrition, remaining fasting and with bare feet during forty- eight 
hours in the cathedral, the scene of the murder, and submitting to be 
beaten with rods by the clergy, the monks, and choristers of that church. 

Henceforth Henry II. enjoyed no more quiet ; his wife Eleanor, 
irritated by his infidelities, incited his three sons to revolt against him, 
and in accordance with the disgraceful custom of the times, Louis VII. 
supported them in the unholy war. They rendered him homage for 
Kormandy, Aquitaine, and Brittany, but they were defeated by their 
father ; the two kings were then reconciled. Louis placed the crown 
on the head of his son Philip Augustus, and made a pilgrimage to 
the tomb of Saint Thomas a Becket ; he died immediately afterwards, 

th f L i leaving the reputation of being a devout monarch, full of 
vii., 1179 - reverence for the secular orders, and of benevolence to- 

wards his subjects ; but in spite of all his grandeur and his able policy 
he lived too long for his own glory and for the prosperity of France, 
which lost in the latter part of his reign those provinces which she 
had acquired in the beginning of it by his marriage, and which she 
never finally recovered till after ages of warfare and disaster. 

During the lifetime of this King, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa 

commenced against the cities of Lombardy a sanguinary war, which 

for a long time involved Italy in bloodshed, and weakened the imperial 

power while increasing the influence of the Sovereign Pontiffs. This 

famous war is known in history under the name of the 

War of the J 

Gueiphs and the wars of the Gruelphs and the Grhibellines ; the former 

Ghibellines. L 

were supported by the Emperor, the latter were the par- 
tisans of the Pope, and fought for the independence of the cities of 
Lombardy. The Popes contended at this juncture for the liberty of 
the people against the despotism of the kings and of the feudal aris- 






When Philip II, surnamed Augustus, 5 * ascended the throne, the ter- 
ritory which composes France of the present day was almost entirely 
nnder the sway of various powerful princes. The greater part of the 
provinces, at first independent, had recognized the sovereignty of 
some monarch; those of the west were subject, in a great measure, 
to the King of England, those of the east to the Emperor of Ger- 
many, and those of the north to the King of France ; lastly, Provence 
and a part of Languedoc pertained to the sceptre of Arragon. Philip 
saw all the crowns rival to his eclipsed before him, and the glory is 
his of having been the first of his race who made his influence felt 
from the Scheldt to the Mediterranean, from the Rhine to the Ocean. 
Great events mark the course of his reign : there were the third and 
fourth Crusades ; the sudden acquisition of monarchical power by 
the seizure of the continental provinces of the King of England ; 
and lastly, the destruction of the Albigenses, or heretics, of Languedoc 
and Provence. 

Before the age of fifteen years this prince signalized his accession 
to the throne by a frightful persecution of the Jews, whom Religious perse . 
he despoiled and drove from the kingdom. He showed cutlons - 
himself yet more cruel with regard to a sect of heretics named " Pa- 
tarins," and condemned them to the flames. These blasphemers found 
in him a pitiless judge : the rich were compelled to pay twenty " golden 
sous," the poor being thrown into the river. A series of contests and 
negotiations with the great vassals of the crown occupied the early 
years of this reign. Philip espoused the daughter of the Count of 
* Because he was born in the month of August. 


Flanders, and obtained by this marriage the city of Amiens, and the 
barrier of the Somme, so important to the defence of his stales. 
He increased his power by unfair means, fomenting civil wars among 
his neighbours, and exciting, np to the death of Henry II., the 
children of that king against their father. The latter signed a 
humiliating treaty with his son Richard and Philip Augustus. He 
heard of the revolt of John, his third son, and died of grief at Chinon. 
Richard succeeded him on the throne of England, and won by his fiery 
and impetuous valour the surname of Coeur de Lion. 

The enthusiasm of the Crusades was rekindled in Europe by the 
recital of the misfortunes which overwhelmed the kins^- 

Fall of the king- , ( ° 

Oom of Jem- dom of Jerusalem* where Lusie'nan bore rule. Saladin, 

salera. . . 

surnamed the Great, prince or sultan of the Mussulmans 
in Egypt and in Sjnna, had inflicted numerous reverses on the Chris- 
tians of Palestine : these, succumbing to the baneful influence of the 
climate and manners of the East, had promptly degenerated, and most 
of their chiefs had hastened their misfortunes by conceiving them- 
selves absolved from the obligation of keeping their oaths with the 
infidels. Saladin gained over them the celebrated battle of Tiberias : 
Jerusalem and her King fell before the power of the conqueror. 

This terrible news struck Christendom with consternation, and 
1C . , filled it with mourning; a formidable expedition was 
113& prepared : the three greatest sovereigns of Europe, 

Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor of Germany, Richard, King of Eng- 
land, and Philip, King of France, took up the Cross, and each led 
into Palestine a numerous army. The results by no means corre- 
sponded to these grand efforts ; Frederick, before arriving, was 
drowned crossing the river Selef, near Seleucia. Philip and Richard 
quarrelled over the siege of St. Jean d'Acre. Philip was jealous of 
the prodigious exploits of his rival, whilst Richard, indignant and 
irritated at the superiority which Philip affected towards him as lord 
suzerain, supported with impatience the feudal yoke. The King of 

* This kingdom, founded by the Crusaders in 1099, had at first been circumscribed 
"by the limits of the ancient kingdoms of Judah and of Israel ; subsequently it spread 
itself over almost the whole of Syria. Godfrey of Bouillon was the first King of 
Jerusalem; Baldwin I., Baldwin II., Foulques, Baldwin III., Amaury, Baldwin IV., 
Baldwin V., Guy of Lusignan, were his successors. Thenceforward the title of King of 
Jerusalem became purely nominal. 

1179-1226] DEATH OF EICHAED CCEU11 DE BION. 169 

France returned to his kingdom, leaving his army under the com- 
mand of Richard. He swore, on leaving him, not to undertake any- 
thing against him in his absence, and to defend his territories as he 
would his own. Richard pursued his heroic career in Palestine ; he 
gained brilliant but fruitless victories, wearing out the Crusaders, who 
murmured, wishing to return to their own country, till at length 
they compelled him to quit the Holy Land. Saladin offered to the 
Christians peaceable possession of the plains of Judea, and liberty to 
perform the pilgrimage to Jerusalem : Richard agreed to these con- 
ditions, and embarked for Europe ; he landed in Austria, upon the 
territories of the Duke Leopold, his mortal enemy, wbo 

r J ' Captivity of 

delivered him up to the Emperor Henry VI., whose Richard Coeur tie 

hatred Richard had excited :» Henry imprisoned him in 

the Castle of Dierstein, and sent to inform the King of France of it. 

Philip had returned to his kingdom full of animosity towards 
the King of England. He had sworn not to attack his dominions 
in his absence ; nevertheless, he had already applied to the Pope 
to be absolved from his oath, when he heard of the captivity of his 
rival. The Pope refused to release him from his word ; but Philip, 
taking no heed of his refusal, commenced the war. Richard was 
then betrayed by his brother John, who had possessed himself of a 
portion of his territories, and who, as well as Philip, offered the 
Emperor enormous sums of money to keep the English monarch 
captive ; but the imprisonment of that prince, the hero of the Crusade, 
outraged all Europe, and the public clamour compelled Henry VI. to 
give him his liberty, which he sold to him for a heavy ransom. He 
required of him, in a public diet of the empire, homage as his suze- 
rain, and released him after ruining him by an exorbitant ransom. 
Richard returned unexpectedly to his dominions ; he reduced his 
brother to submission, and avenged himself on Philip by forming 
an alliance with the most powerful of the barons inimical to the 
French monarch. The war was prolonged between these two rivals 
with divers success ; they signed a truce for five years, and Richard 
was killed at the siege of the small fortress of Chaluz- „ ,-'„.■.., 

° Death of Eichard 

Chabrol in Limousin (1199). and usurpation of 

v y - John, surnamed 

John, the youngest son of Henry II., seized the crown LacMand » 1199 - 
of England, and Philip supported against him the just pretensions 


of Arthur of Brittany, his nephew, the son of his elder brother ; this 
young prince promised homage to Philip for all his possessions in 
France, and ceded Normandy to him. A sangninary war arose* 
Death of Arthur Arthur with his knights was captured by King John, and 
of Bnttany. me £ ]^ g (Je^fr by assassination. It is said that his nncle 

came by night to the tower of Rouen where he held him captive, and 
that after vainly striving to make him cede to him his rights, he 
stabbed him with his sword, fastened a heavy stone to the body, and 
himself threw it into the water. This frightful crime excited uni- 
versal indignation, and it was to the interest of France that he should 
meet chastisement. It was in fact a measure which served the inte- 
rests of the crown no less by its immediate results, than by the idea 
which it gave of the power of the French monarch and of the de- 
pendence thereupon of his great vassals. John, King of England, 
and vassal of the crown for his continental possessions* 

Citation of King r 

John before the -^ag cited by Philip, his suzerain, before his peers to 
answer, among other heads of the accusation, for the 
murder of his nephew Arthur. He did not repudiate the jurisdiction 
of the tribunal, but dreading its sentence, he did not appear before it : 
Condemnati n f ^ e COIIr ^ °^ peers condemned him to death as contu- 
KingJohn. macious. Normandy, Brittany, Guienne,^ Maine, Anjou, 

SSthientai ms and Touraine, lands which he held in fief from France, 
theCrown S 7 lth were declared confiscated, pertaining to the King, and 
reunited to the crown. This reunion, however, did not 
take place without numerous battles and a vast effusion of blood. 
In this war John was himself his worst enemy : his cruelties, exac- 
tions, and avarice roused the people against him ; he attacked 
the clergy through their property, and was soon excommunicated ; 
Pope Innocent III. offered his kingdom to Philip, who assembled 
an army, intending a descent upon England. John, in alarm, became 
as humble towards the Church as he had before been insolent ; he sub- 
mitted to the Pope, and did homage to him for his crown. Philip 
then marched against him in virtue of the Pontifical sentence, but the 
submission of King John had made a change in the views of the Holy 
See. It had been for Philip, but was now for the King of England. 

* Guienne, however, remained long subsequently to the kings of England ; but Poitou 
was detached from it by Philip Augustus, who conquered its territory. 

1179-1226] SIGNING OF MAGNA CHAETA. 171 

Pandolpii, legate of the Roman Pontiff, repaired to France and forbade 
Philip to proceed further ; yet, to calm his resentment, he pointed out 
the Count of Flanders as a rich prey to promise to his army : Flanders 
might be accepted in exchange for England. Old grievances existed 
between Ferrand, count of that province, and Philip ; the King could 
now obtain satisfaction by force of arms. Ferrand hastened to league 
himself with John of England, and with his father Otho IY., Emperor 
of Germany. The French army met that of the enemy between Lille 
and Tournay. They joined battle at the bridge of Battleof 
Bouvines ; the Emperor and the King of France com- Bouvmes > 1214 - 
manding in person, when the latter achieved a brilliant victory; 
five counts, and among them the Count of Flanders, fell into his 
hands, the communes of five French cities had sent their soldiers to 
the battle, and they rivalled the knights in glory. Philip was 
received in Paris amid the acclamations of his people, and the 
glorious battle of Bouvines, in which he vanquished three sovereigns, 
prodigiously increased the consideration and renown of the Capetian 
dynasty in the eyes of Europe.. 

Nevertheless King John had never intended, in submitting his king- 
dom to the Church, to sacrifice to it his own criminal passions. He 
rendered himself so odious and so contemptible that his barons leagued 
themselves against him, and sword in hand forced him, on the 15th of 
June, 1215, to sign the charter which has become the basis of the 
liberties of the English people, and which is known as M charta 
Magna Charta. By it the King engaged himself not to 13lD • 
despoil widows and minors confided to his charge, to raise no taxes 
without the approbation of his Privy Council or of Parliament, never 
to imprison, mutilate, or condemn to death freeholders, merchants, or 
peasants without the consent of twelve of their equals. These clauses 
and some others appeared intolerable to the despotic King : he only 
made oath to that Charter in the hope of being released from it by 
the Pope, and in fact he was so released. His barons then offered the 
crown to Louis of France, the son of Philip Augustus. This prince,, 
despite his father's vow and the prohibition of the Pope, whose legate 
excommunicated him, crossed over to England. He was Louig f ^ ^ 
received with open arms by the barons and possessed m England, 1216. 
himself of the kingdom ; but King John died at this time, and 


his partisans proclaimed his young son Hemy, King. The English 
people attached themselves to the youth, and Louis, abandoned by his 
supporters, returned to France, after having contributed to establish on 
a more solid basis the liberties of England. 

Philip Augustus found himself under the ban of excommunication, 
the common lot up to that time of almost all his race. He was anathe- 
matized on the occasion of his third marriage "with Agnes de Meran, 
during the lifetime of his second wife, Ingeburge of Denmark. He 
showed signs of resistance : all his possessions were placed under 
interdict. No one could be married, or receive communion, nor could 
the dead be buried. The people were seized with terror, and the King 
was finally driven to submit. 

A fourth Crusade took place under his reign. It was preached 

by the enthusiastic Fulk, cure of JSTouilly-sur-Marne. 

Taking of Con- ' The powerful Counts of Flanders and Champagne set 

the Crusaders, the example and took up the Cross : they were fol- 

1202—1204. . 

lowed by Dampierre, by Montmorency, by the famous 
Simon de Montfort, and a multitude of nobles from the north 
of France, to whom the Venetians furnished fifty galleys for the 
transport of the army ; the Marquis de Montferrat and the Count of 
Flanders were the recognized chiefs of this expedition, which was 
really directed by the old blind Doge Dandolo. It was he who, under 
pretext of having furnished the expense of their transport, carried 
the Crusaders to the conquest of Zara, the capital of Dalmatia, which 
he seized in the name of the Venetian Republic ; then, taking advan- 
tage of a civil war which was desolating the Byzantine empire, and of 
the promises of a young Greek prince, who came to the camp of the 
Crusaders to implore their succour, to re-establish on the throne the 
Emperor Comnenus, his father, Dandolo pointed out to them that 
Constantinople was a rich prey and easy to seize, and decided them 
to commence the Crusade by that conquest. In vain the Pope threw 
obstacles in the way of this adventurous expedition ; in vain a great 
number of the Crusaders separated themselves from it, and proceeded 
straight to Palestine. Dandolo threw the army against Constanti- 
nople, which disputed with Venice the empire of the sea. The 
Crusaders carried that famous capital by assault, and re-established on 
the throne Isaac Comnenus, whom an usurper had driven from it; 


but very shortly a popular tumult took place, the old Emperor was 
strangled, and the Crusaders were obliged once more to gain the city 
by assault. This time the Greek empire was divided amongst the 
conquerors, and Baldwin, Count of Flanders, descendant of Charle- 
magne, elected Emperor. Thus was founded the Latin , .. , 

° 7 x Foundation of 

empire of Constantinople, which endured for fifty- seven § e co^m£ plr8 
years. The Venetians required for their share three of 110ple ' 1204, 
the eight quarters of that city, and obtained besides the greater part 
of the isles and sea-board of the empire. The Marquis de Montferrat 
had the kingdom of Thessalonica. The Morea became a principality, 
and the territory of Athens a feudal duchy. The Crusaders never 
crossed the Bosphorus. 

The event which agitated Europe most profoundly during the reign 
of Philip Augustus was the war of the Albigenses, or the 

Crusade against 

crusade undertaken against the sectarians of the South, the Albigenses, 

° _ m 1208—1229. 

There was a great number of these in Provence, in Cata- 
lonia, and especially in Languedoc. The inhabitants of these provinces 
were industrious, given to commerce, to the arts, and to poetry : their 
numerous cities flourished, governed by consuls under a somewhat 
republican form of rule. Suddenly this beautiful region was aban- 
doned to the fury of fanaticism, its cities were ruined, its arts and 
commerce destroyed. All these massacres, all this devastation, had 
for then* end a purpose — the stifling of the first germs of a religious 

In these countries the clergy were not distinguished, as in France 
and in the northern provinces, by their zeal in instruction and in 
diffusing the light of religion. They were notorious for disorderly 
living, and fell every day into greater contempt. The need for reform 
made itself felt before long in the breast of the provincial populations, 
and many reformers had already appeared. Long before this they had 
formed themselves into associations, which had for their aim the puri- 
fication of the morals and doctrines of the Church. There were those 
of the Patarins,* and of the Catharins,'f or "poor" of Lyons, better 
known under the name of Yaudois. But the operative reforms extended 
themselves gradually, the dogmas themselves were attacked, the 

* So called from pater, because these sectarians admitted of none but the Lord's Prayer. 
f From the Greek Jcaiharos, pure, on account of the purity of their liyes. 


priests exposed to the insults of the people, and the domains of the 
Church invaded. Such was the state of affairs when the famous 
Innocent III., aged 39, ascended the Pontifical throne in 1198, bring- 
ing thereto a domineering spirit, and the fiery energy of a violent and 
inflexible character. This Pontiff, who kept Europe in fear, sought out 
and punished any free exercise of thought in religious matters- He 
was the first to perceive the serious menace to the Romish Church, 
apparent in a liberty of conscience which went so far as to break into 
revolt against her tenets. He saw with inquietude and anger the new 
tendency of feeling in Provence and Languedoc, and proscribed the 
reformers. Some among them, above all those denominated Albi- 
genses, were Manicheans, that is to say, they admitted 

Religious doc- ^ 

trinesofthe the dangerous doctrine of two eternal principles and 

Albigenses. ° 

powers of good and evil ; but a great number, known 
under the name of Vaudois, professed opinions but little different 
from those which, three centuries later, were preached by Luther. 
They denied the Transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, 
rejected confession, and the Sacraments of confirmation and marriage, 
and stigmatized as idolatry the worship of images. These latter were 
spread over Lyons, Dauphine, and Provence ; the Albigenses occupied 
more particularly Languedoc : their principal centres of action were 
Bezisrs, Carcassone, above all Toulouse, a very large, powerful, and 
industrious city, whose count, Raymond VI., was the richest prince 
in Christendom ; his nephew, Raymond Roger, a young man full of 
ardour and courage, was Count of Beziers. Both the one and the 
other, without breaking with Rome, had favoured the new doctrines. 

Innocent III., impatient to stifle the heresy, sent in the first place 
inquisitors into the province of ISTarbonne : they were badly received. 
The legate Pierre Castelnau succeeded them ; he excommunicated 
Raymond, who, fearing the menaces of the Roman Pontiff, was forced 
. , to submit and to permit the persecutions. A gentleman, 

Assassination of . 

gentleman of a vassal of the count, indignant at the humiliation of his 
Toulouse, 1208. suzerain and the cruelty of the legate, assassinated the 
latter, and by this murder gave the Pope pretext to preach a crusade 
against the dominions of Raymond VI. and of his nephew. The 
monks of Citeaux seconded the vengeance of Innocent ; they offered 
ample indulgences to all those who would bear arms for forty days 

1179-1226] MASSACRE OP BEZIBRS. 175 

against the sectarians. A multitude of English, French, and Germans, 
eager to gain them, nocked under the banners of the Pope. The im- 
mense preparations of the crusaders struck terror into Raymond VI., 
who, worn with age and unable to offer a vigorous resistance, sub- 
mitted himself and went to the Abbot of Oiteaux, the new legate 
of the Pope. This latter reconciled him to the Church by causing 
him to be beaten with rods at the foot of the altar ; he ordered 
him to guide the enemy's columns into the heart of his states, and to 
deliver up his chief castles. The young Viscount de Beziers, nephew 
of Raymond, indignant at the pusillanimous conduct of his uncle, 
declared war, and determined to be buried with his knights in the 
ruins of his strongholds. The crusaders threw themselves in a body 
on his lands, seized his castles, burnt all the men they found in them, 
violated the women, massacred the children, and carried Beziers by 
assault. An immense number of the inhabitants of the neighbouring 
country had taken refuge within the walls of that city; the legate 
being consulted by the conquerors as to the fate of these unhappy 
creatures, of whom only a portion were heretics, pronounced these 
execrable words: " Kill them all; God toill know his „ 

Massacre of 

own" A frightful massacre followed these words, and the B(?ziers > 1209. 
city was reduced to ashes. The army of crusaders marched thereupon 
to Carcassonne, and was sharply repulsed by the Viscount de Beziers. 
This young hero afterwards repaired to the legate to treat for peace, 
and was captured with three hundred knights in spite of a safe con- 
duct, in virtue of the maxim " that one is not bound to keep faith to- 
wards heretics and infidels." The inhabitants of Carcassonne evacuated 
the city by secret subterranean passages unknown to the crusaders, 
but four hundred and fifty of them were taken and put to death. The 
crusaders themselves, weary of such horrors, desired to retire at the 
end of the forty days. The legate made fruitless efforts to detain them, 
and gave all the conquered country to the ferocious _ ., f , 
Simon, Count de Montfort ; he delivered over to him also B&iS?* de 
the Viscount de Beziers, who died by poison. 

A part only of the Albigenses had been subjected and destroyed in 
this first crusade. The states of the Count of Toulouse remained 
intact, and against these in following] years the monks of Citeaux 
preached new crusades throughout Europe. In vain the unfortunate 

l'<3 BATTLE OF BIURET. [Book I. Chap. IY. 

Count Raymond wished to allay the storm; the Council of Saint 
Gilles imposed infamous conditions on him, and ordered him to deliver 
over to the stake those whom the priests pointed out to him. The 
aged Raymond remembered his heroic nephew, and the thousands of 
men slain, whose blood cried out for vengeance ; his indignation re- 
animated his valour, and he prepared for war to the death. The 
crusaders arrived from all parts ; Simon cle Montfort was at their head 
and distinguished himself by frightful cruelties : immense piles were 
prepared ; the legate and Foulquet, Bishop of Toulouse, confounded 
in the same holocaust heretics and Catholics suspected of heresy. The 
n L „ r battle of Muret, fouoht in 1213, terminated this war ; 

Battle of ° 7 7 

Muret, 1213. Don Pedro 5 King of Arragon, who had brought succour 

to the Count of Toulouse, perished there. The Albigenses were 
defeated, and that defeat gave a mortal blow to their cause. 

The victorious executioners quarrelled among themselves and 
fought ; the people regained courage. Toulouse rose. Montfort 
made himself master of it by the horrible treachery of the Bishop, 
Foulquet ; the latter invited, in the name of the God of peace, all the 
inhabitants to come out and meet Montfort, who, with his knights, 
was awaiting them, and put them all in chains. The war was con- 
tinued with various success, till at last all Languedoc rose in arms. 
Montfort was killed before Toulouse, which he was besieging ; Count 
Raymond was recalled, and received in that city with the acclamations 
of the people : he died, the priests refused him sepulture, and his coffin 
remained many days exposed at the door of a church. These were 
the principal events in the wars of the Albigenses, but this was not the 
end of the misfortunes of that country. The conquerors desired to 
desolate the very soil which had supported these heretics. The Popes 
preached new crusades against Raymond VII., son and successor of 
the old Count Raymond. Great calamities again overwhelmed these 
people ; their cities were destroyed, their fields desolated : at lengthy 
after twenty-two years of atrocities, when the language, the arts, and 
industry of these provinces had disappeared with the 

Cessation of the - . . . 

war against the reformation, the executioners were wearied, and the war 


ceased under the following reign, to the great advantage 
of France. Raymond VII. ceded to it a portion of his territories by 
the treaty of Paris, signed in 1229. 


Philip Augustus took no active part in this war of extermination ; he 
couffht, on the contrary, to repair its disasters, and while 

* ° m Government and 

fanaticism was steeping the southern countries' with administration of 

Philip Augustus. 

jjlood, he extended his dominions and rendered them 
flourishing. The national assemblies had fallen into desuetude : 
pbilip appealed to his chief barons to form his council and sanction 
his decrees. 

Jle conquered JSTormandy, Maine, Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou, 
formerly forfeited to the King of England ; he conquered also the 
county of Auvergne. Under his reign Valois, part of Yermandois, 

| all d Amienois, fell to the crown by the extinction of the families who 
possessed them ; this King also re-annexed Artois to his crown by his 

|: uniou with Isabelle of Flanders and Hainault : finally, he gave the 
inheritance of Brittany to Pierre Mauclerc, a member of his family, 
and a Capetian dynasty was founded in that country. Ne D h f 
Thus was formed the new duchy of Brittany, which be- Brittan y- 

jf came one of the great immediate fiefs of the crown of France. These 
results were as much the work of his -policy as of his fortune and 
valour. He caused his great vassals to bend before him, and obtained 
hy his victories over them the superiority which belonged to him by 
rioht of his royal title. The citation of King John to his tribunal, 
and the judgment pronounced against him, dealt a mortal blow to 
feudal "aristocracy. 

Philip Augustus was occupied all his life in warfare, treaties, re- 
forms, laws for his fiefs, and secured upon a firm basis the i^g^^^y^an 
relations between lords and vassals, which until then had Au eastus. 
hoen only in an unsettled and arbitrary condition, and was thus the 
principal founder of feudal monarchy. The military/art owed some 

: progress to him ; soldiers received pay, and for this purpose he esta- 
blished the first permanent imposts, he appointed three maritime 
armaments, and obtained by his activity, his prudence, and his 
talents, the respect both of sovereigns and people. 

The important foundation of the University of Paris dates from 
this prince, who defined its privileges. The name of 

1 ' . Foundation of 

University was given to this celebrated school because the University of 

J & Paris, 1200. ^Z 

It was universal in its scope, and admitted masters. and 

Biudents without regard to the nation to which they belonged ; thus, 


there were found in it the sections of France, England, Normandy 
and Picardy. Paris saw at this time a multitude of colleges sprino- 
up in its midst, several of which acquired a great celebrity. All the 
schools were placed under the authority of the provost of Paris, and 
Philip Augustus confirmed a bull of Pope Oelestin m. by which 
the scholars were released from ecclesiastical . jurisdiction. The 
University thus rose under the double patronage of the Holy See 
and of Royalty. It alone possessed the right of granting the de- 
grees of bachelor, licentiate, and doctor in the different faculties of 
letters and sciences ; and though its rights and privileges were fre- 
quently the source of great disorders, it acquired a high renown and 
became one of the great powers of the state. The majority of the 
students, at that time, devoted themselves to the priesthood : the 
French Church sought with admirable learning and patience for the 
scattered memorials of ancient literature, and struggled successfully 
against barbarism and ignorance. Philip had comprehended the 
grand effect of the rising University : he encouraged the studies, with 
all his power, and desired that the abode of those who abandoned 
themselves to learning should be an inviolable asylum. So much care 
for an object of such general interest didnot, however, divert his 
attention from matters of a secondary importance. Paris, especially, 
was indebted to him for useful alterations. Up till that time all the 
streets of the capital became, in rainy weather, infectious sewers; 
but the principal thoroughfares were paved and embellished by his 
orders. He enlarged the city, enclosed it with walls, built market- 
places, and surrounded the Cemetery of the Innocents with cloisters ; l 
he built a palace by the side of the large tower of the Louvre, and con- 
tinued the Cathedral, which had been commenced prior to his reign 
He gained by his conquests and institutions the esteem of his con- 
Death of Phiii "temporaries, and died at Nantes in 1223, after a reign 
Augustus, 1223. £ forty- three years, leaving a portion of his immense 
wealth to the priests and crusaders, and also making considerable 
gifts to the poor. 

- louis vrn. 

Louis Vni., son of Philip Augustus, only reigned three^ years. This 
prince, whom his flatterers named Cceur de Lion, was descended on^f 

1179-1226] ACCESSION OF LOUIS Yin. 1^9 

the female side from Charlemagne, and seemed to unite in his person 
the claims of the Carlovingian and Capetian houses. Acce . 
During his father's life he had been recognized King of Louis VIn - 1223 - 
England by the barons hostile to King John, but being abandoned 
by his partisans he was obliged to quit the kingdom. On returning 
to France, he took from the English Poitou, which they had 
reconquered, as well as several important places in Aunis, Perigord, 
and Limousin, among others Rochelle, and signalized the end of 
his reign by a second crusade against the unhappy 

Second crusade 

Albigenses. The principal cities of Languedoc, Beau- against the 

AJuigenses^ 1226. 

caire, Carcassonne, and B6ziers, opened their gates to 
him, and the south of France, with the exception of Guienne and 
Toulouse, recognized the royal authority. Louis was marching against 
the latter eity when an epidemic fever attacked his army, and he 
died at Montpensier, either from an attack of the .malady, or, as 
some believed, from poison, administered to him by Death f 
Thibaut of Champagne, who was violently enamoured of Lom8 VIIL 1226 - 
Queen Blanche of Castille, whom the " Kin g left a widow, with five 
children of tender years. The eldest of her sons was St. Louis. 

* 2 




Louis IX. } justly venerated under the name of St. Louis, was only 
eleven years of age on the death of his father, and the regency of the 
kingdom was disputed between Queen Blanche, his mother, and his 
uncle, Philip Hurepel, son of Philip Augustus and Agnes de Meran, 
whose marriage the Church had refused to recognize. A great 
number of the nobility supported the claims of Philip, and Henry III. 
of England declared "himself their leader ; but the devotion of the 
powerful Thibaut, Count of Champagne, insured the advantage to 
the queen-mother, and caused the submission of a portion of the 
rebels. Blanche had a mind at once ' great, proud, and Christian I 
Regency of sne g ,aye excellent masters to her children, and had 

^.ieen Blanche. tliem ^eft^y brought up in the fear of Cod. "My 

son," she said to the young' King, "you know how "dear you are 
to me, and yet I would sooner . see you dead than gnilty / of a mortal 
sin." This pious Queen also possessed political talent, and kept a 
firm hand over the malcontent lords, who wished to oppose the coro- 
nation of her son. Surprised by their troops on the Orleans road, 
she took refuge in the tower of Montlhery and summoned to her aid 
the citizens of Paris, who arrived in arms to deliver her. She enabled 
Prance to reap the fruit of the horrible war with, the Albigenses. 
Treaty of Paris ^ ne ^ rea ty °^ Paris, signed in 1229, between ~her and 
1229, Raymond VII., Count of Toulouse, attached to the crown 

a large portion of Lower Languedoc, forming the -seneschalship .of 
Beaucaire and Carcassonne, and Raymond recognized as his heir in 
the rest of his territory his son-in-law Alphonse, one of the brothers 
of Louis IX., declaring the inheritance should revert to the crown if 
there were no child of the marriage of Alphonse with his only daughter, 
Jane : an eventuality which came to pass. Blanche next brought into 


obedience the Dukes of Brittany and Burgundy, in spite of the assist- 
ance afforded them by the King of England ; and a 
trace, which terminated this civil war, was signed at aqWu da rior- 

_. . raicr, 1231. 

St. Aubin dn Cormier between her, the barons, and her 

Louis IX. was nineteen years of age when he married Margaret 
of Provence, then only thirteen. Queen Blanche separated them for 
six years, and always afterwards showed a jealousy about Margaret's 
influence over the -King. A few years afterwards the sister of this 
princess married Henry III., Kong of England, who thus became the 
brother-in-law of St. Louis. The picture which Erance presents from 
the treaty of St. Aubin up to the time when the King attained his 
majority is that of general peace ; but Louis IX. had soon to contend 
against the great vassals and nobles, to whom his grandfather, Philip 
Augustus, had dealt such terrible blows. The Counts de la Marche, of 
Foix, and several . other vassals, united with Henry III., who crossed 
the sea with an army, and claimed the provinces taken from John 
Lackland. The English and their allies were conquered by Louis 
at the bridge of Taillebourg, and again before Saintes, B ttle of Taille . 
which city he united to the crown, with a part of bour 6» 1242 - 
Saintonge, by the treaty of Bordeaux. The rebellious lords submitted 
to a master who generously pardoned them, and Henry returned to 

• All the East shook at this time in the expectation of a frightful 
catastrophe. The Mongols had set themselves in motion, T 

r • o 7 Invasion of the 

and their countless hordes, emerging from Upper Asia, East t»yMongoi!?. 
exterminated every nation they passed through. Their vanguard had 
invaded the Holy Land, and gained a sanguinary victory over the 
Christians and Mussulmans, whom. terror had united: five hundred 
Templars were left on the field of battle, and Jerusalem B f Gaza 
had fallen into the hands of the ferocious conquerors. m4, 
St. Louis was ill and almost dying when the news of this disaster 
reached Europe. As soon as he felt better, to the astonishment 
of all, he ordered that the red cross should be placed on his bed 
and on his garments, and made a vow to go and fight for the 
tomb of Christ. His mother and even the priests implored hinfto 
renounce this fatal design : it was in vain ; and no sooner was he 

182 . FIFTH CRUSADE. [Book I. Chap.Y. 

convalescent than he summoned his mother and the Bishop of Paris 
to his bedside, and said to them: "As you believe that I was no! 
perfectly in my senses when I pronounced my vows, here is my cross, 
which I tear from my shoulders and hand to yon. Bnt now yon must 
acknowledge that I am in fall possession of my faculties. Restore 
me my cross, then; for He who knows all things knows also that 
no food will enter my lips till I have been marked anew witli 
His sign." "It is the finger of Grod," exclaimed all present; "His 
will be done." 

The religious enthusiasm of Louis grew with his years, and domi- 
nated every other feeling' in him. It is in his conscience. 

Fifth Crnsade. J ° ' 

and not in his interests, that we must seek the motives 
of all his actions. He joined to an enlightened reason, a tender, pure, 
and generous mind; but his ardent faith was sometimes blind, 
and a false scruple on his part caused the greatest misfortunes. 
Determined on leading an army to the Holy Land, he felt that the 
safety of that army depended in great measure on the route which lie 
selected for it. The safest was that by Sicily, a country subject to 
Frederick II. ; but this Emperor was excommunicated by 'the Pope, 
his implacable enemy, and Louis, after impotent efforts to procure 
. absolution for him, was afraid of halting in the states of a reprobate 
monarch, and resolved to proceed towards Egypt by Cyprus, instead 
of going to Syria by Sicily. This pious fault was his ruin. After 
De artureof settling all the affairs of his states and appointing his 
tiw HoiySmd mother regent, Louis took the pilgrim's staff and the 
1248, orinamme from St. Denis, and left Paris on the 12th 

of June, 1248, to embark at Aigues-Mortes, a town he had founded at 
a great cost, in order to have a port in the Mediterranean.* 
s The King sojourned a year at Nicosium, the capital of Cyprus, and 
then set out for Egypt. On arriving in sight of Damietta he leaped 
into the sea, sword in hand, at the head of his knights, repulsed 
the enemy, and seized this strong city and all its immense rei~$ 

The only course open was to march on Cairo and subjugate Egypt 
by a rapid invasion ; but the swelling of the Nile alarmed the Khigi 

*. This port is now dried up : the water in retiring has left a space of half a league 
between the sea and the shore. 

1226-1270] CAPTURE OF KItfG LOUIS. 183 

and he remained for five months inactive at Danrietta. At length he 
left that town, and marched without any precautions on Mansourah, 
The Turks surrounded him on a burning plain, and hurled on his 
baggage and camp blazing bitumen, known by the name of *t Greek 
fire." Louis, in this desperate situation, made a violent B m f M 
effort : he gave orders for the battle ; the Count Artois, $oural1 ' 1249 - 
his brother, rushed imprudently on Mansourah and surprised the 
town, but was surrounded there and killed, with the knights who 
followed him. The King, who had been unable to relieve them, 
fell back on a camp of the Saracens, carried it and shut himself 
up in it, but his position became ' as dangerous there as his pre- 
ceding one. Disease and repeated assaults carried off one half of 
his army, and he was himself taken dangerously ill. He ordered 
a retreat on Damietta, where he had left the Queen and a powerful 
garrison, but Turkish galleys blocked the passage of the river, and 
finding himself without resources he fell a prisoner, with all his 
knights, into the hands of the Mussulmans. A great number of 
his -soldiers apostatized to escape death, but he, thrown into irons and 
Trader the most atrocious menaces, preserved the majesty of a king 
and the resignation of a Christian. Queen Margaret, at Damietta, 
proved herself worthy of her husband. On hearing of the reverses of 
the army she shuddered at the thought of falling into the hands of 
the Turks, and asked an old knight who never left her to grant her 
one favour, that of running her through with his sword, rather than 
allow the Mussulmans to seize her. " I had thought of that, Madam," 
replied the old warrior. But Damietta was not taken by storm : 
Margaret kept the city as a pledge for the safety of the King, 
and it was offered with 400,000 livres for the royal ransom. At 
this price Louis recovered his liberty. His barons returned to 
* France, but he remained four years longer in Syria, exhorting his 
knights to rejoin him, and employing his treasures in fortifying 
Tyre, Sidon, and all the other places in Palestine that belonged to 
the Christians. 

Before the news of his deliverance became known a crusade of a 
new description was set on foot. The people felt as much love for the 
King as hatred for the nobles who oppressed them. A man suddenly 
appeared who affirmed that he had received from the Virgin a letter, 



[Book I. Chip. V. 

which lie held in one of his hands, which was always closed. She 
ordered him, so he said, to collect all the Christian 

Crusade of the ' . 1 

Christian shepherds he could find and march at their head to de- 

shepherds. r 

liver the King, victory was refused fco the mighty, and 

promised to the feeble and humble. This uneducated man possessed 
eloquence, and ere long a multitude of shepherds followed his flag, 
and outlaws and bandits also joined themselves to him. The priests 
excommunicated this undisciplined mob, who avenged themselves 
by massacring a great number of ecclesiastics at Orleans. Queen 
Blanche, who at first had favoured the association, from this moment 
did everything in her power to dissolve it. The preachers of the 
shepherds excite,d the people against the priests. They were in 
the habit of preaching surrounded by a guard of armed men ; and 
one day Blanche introduced among them an executioner, who stepped 
behind their chief, and with one stroke sent his head rolling at the 
feet of his horrified audience. Knights then galloped up and dis- 
persed the shepherds, who were massacred by the people who had 
previously honoured them. 

Queen Blanche died in 1253, after a wise regency, and the King 
~ .. ,_ felt the most bitter grief at his loss. He returned 

Death of Queen & 

rJS-fofthe ^° France, an d made his entry into Paris, in Sep* 
Kmg, 1254. tember, 1254, displaying on his countenance the seared 

impression of all his disasters. 

On his return, Louis occupied himself actively with the reformation 

of his kingdom, and displayed the lofty qualities of a legislator. He 

completelv destroyed the sovereign authority of the nobles 

Legislation and . . . ... 

administration by depriving: them of the right of dealing -justice arbi- 

of Saint Louis. . . . . 

trarily. An important discovery seconded his efforts : 
the code of Roman laws known by the name of the Pandects of Justi- 
nian, and which governed the Empire of Constantinople, became known 
at this period in France. This collection of laws, so justly celebrated, 
had, at the time, such a superiority over every other code, that it was 
hailed as written reason. It gave a living impulse to the minds of 
men, and its application was immediately demanded ; but the igno- 
rance of the nobles was so great that it was found necessary to call 
in men versed in the study of the laws to explain it. Saint Louis 
was the first to introduce these lawyers into a parliament, which he 


constituted as a court of justice. This court was composed of three 
kio'h barons, three prelates, nineteen knights, and eighteen clerks, or 
lawyers, who drew up the decrees. The latter succeeded in securing 
the entire management of affairs by disgusting the barons through 
the wearisomeness of the proceedings ; they then exercised a portion 
of the feudal authority, and wished to render that of the King absolute 
by actively seconding him in all his projects of reform and attacks 
upon feudal rights. 

This pious and humane monarch attempted to put an end to the 
private wars between his barons,' and prohibited judicial combats. 
He decreed that when an inSult was offered, the two parties, before 
having recourse to arms, should observe a truce of forty days, called 
" the king's quarantine," thus granting time for passions to calm. He 
ordered that judicial debates should be substituted for judicial com- 
bats ; and considerably enlarged the authority of the crown by esta- 
blishing "royal cases," in which he himself heard causes between his 
subjects and their lords. The lawyers gave the greatest extension to 
these appeals. Nor did the King permit cities to be rendered inde- 
pendent of his authority ; he transformed many communes into royal 
towns by the ordinance of 1256, which ordered them to put forward 
four candidates, from among whom the King should choose the 
mayor, who was to be responsible to him for his conduct. It was 
then settled that the King alone had the right to make communes, 
that they should owe him fidelity against all, and that the title of 
"King's citizen" should be a safeguard under all circumstances. 

The name of "Establishments of Saint Louis " has been given to a 
collection of decrees passed by this King for the people of his domains. 
This celebrated collection contains wise and useful laws against 
venality in the administration of justice, the greediness of creditors, 
imprisonment for debt, and usurious profits. Louis IX. also displayed 
the independence and firmness of his -judicious mind by „ 

J- o j Pragmatic 

publishing the Pragmatic * Sanction, which became the Sauctl0U - 
basis of the liberties of the Gallican or French Church. This famous 
ordinance prohibited the raising of money for the Court of Rome within 
the kingdom without the King's permission, and fixed the cases in 
which it would be permissible to appeal from ecclesiastic to royal 
* This word is derived from the Greek pragma, which means "a rule." 

186" REFORM OF THE COINAGE. [Book I. Chap.Y. 

justice. Lastly, in spite of his great devotion, he managed to keep 
in check the extravagant zeal of the bishops. " Several prelates," says 
Joinville, " having corne to see the King at the palace, the Bishop of 
Auxerre said to him, ' Sire, the lords here present, archbishops and 
bishops, have commissioned me to tell yon that Christianity is perish- 
ing in your hands.' The King crossed himself and asked, ' How so? ' 
1 Sire,' the bishop resumed, 'because so little heed is paid to-day, and 
eveiy day, to excommunications, that people "will die excommunicated 
rather than obtain absolution, and will not give satisfaction to the 
Church. The prelates enjoin you, Sire, by the love of G-od, to command 
your provosts and bailiffs that all those who remain excommunicated 
for a year and a day shall be forced to seek absolution by the seizure of 
their property.' The King replied that he would readily give such an 
order with respect to all those who were proved to him to be in the 
wrong. The bishop said that it was not for the King to judge then 
causes ; but the King replied that he would not order otherwise, for it 
would be contrary to G-od and all reason if he forced people to obtain 
absolution when the clerks acted unjustly to them. ' As an example of 
this,' the King added, ' I will give you the Count of Brittany, who has 
pleaded for seven years, while excommunicated, against the prelates of 
Brittany, and has eventually induced the Pope to condemn them all. 
Hence, if I had constrained the Count of Brittany in the first year 
to obtain absolution I should have acted wrongly towards Grod and 
towards him.' " 

Louis's last reform was that of the coinage. Eighty nobles had the 
right of coining in their domains, but Louis fixed the value of the 
coinage in each case, and brought his own everywhere into currency. 
He also effected greater security on the highways of the kingdom, by 
obliging the nobles who levied a toll to guarantee the security of the 
roads through their domains. * 

So much care devoted to the prosperity of the kingdom and to 

the salutary establishment of his authority did not so fully occupy 

the great mind of this King as to divert him from occu- 

datio'ns: The pations of less general interest, but of no less useful 

Quinze-vingts, . , 

the Holy chapel, kind. He founded a public library rn Pans; created 

the Sorbonne. 

the hospital of the Quinze-vingts, intended to receive 
300 blind people ; and built the Holy Chapel, which may still be 

226-1270] PIETY OF LOUIS THE NINTH. 187 

admired at Paris, near the Palace of Justice, at that period the palace 
of the King. During his reign, Robert de Sorbon also founded 
the college which bears his name — the Sorbonne, which became the 
seat of the celebrated faculty of theology, whose decisions were so 
respected that it was called "the perpetual Council of Gaul." 

This King's truly great and really Christian piety did not solely con- 
sist in the external observance of the practices of the K ofLouis 
Church : it sprang from the heart, and consisted chiefly the Nmth - 
in the love of God and an internal sanctity of the soul. Appro- 
priate to this, Joinville relates an affecting interview which he 
had with this prince : " c Seneschal,' the King said to me, in the 
presence of several priests, ' what is God ? ' And I answered him, 
1 Sire, so good a thing that there can be nothing better.' c Truly,' 
the King replied, 'that is a very good answer, for the answer you 
have made is written in this book which I hold in my hand. 
Now, I ask you, which would you prefer : to be a leper, or to 
have committed a mortal sin ? ' And I, who never lied to him, 
replied, that 'I would sooner have committed thirty, than be a leper.' 
And when the brothers had departed, he called me aside, made me sit 
at his feet, and said, l You speak without reflection, like a thoughtless 
man ; for there is no leprosy so villanous as that of being in deadly 
sin ; because the soul then resembles the fiend of hell. This is why 
no leprosy can be so loathsome. When a man dies, he is cured of the 
leprosy of the body ; but when the man who has committed a deadly 
sin dies, it is not certain that he has been so penitent as to cause God to 
pardon him. Thence he should feel a great fear lest this leprosy may 
endure so long as God is in Paradise. Therefore, I pray you,' he 
added, ' as strongly as I can, that, for the love of God and myself, 
you will prefer to have any malady affect your body rather than a 
mortal 'sin affect your soul.' Then he asked me if I washed the 
feet of the poor on Holy Thursday ? ' Sire,' I said to him, ' I will 
never wash the feet of those churls.' ' Truly,' he replied, ' that is 
wrongly spoken, for you ought not to hold in disdain what God has 
done for our instruction. Hence I pray you, for the love of God and 
me, to accustom yourself to wash the feet of the poor.' " 

Joining to this touching piety a great zeal for equity, Louis himself 
taught the respect due to the laws. He liked to render justice to his 


subjects in person. " Many times," Joinville also says, "it happened 
that in summer he would go and sit in the wood of Yincennes after 
mass, and leaning against an oak, he made us sit down round him, 
and all those who had business came to speak with him freely, unim- 
peded by ushers or others." 

More than once he passed severe sentences on members of his own 
family, and nobles with whom he was intimate. Still, in spite of such 
wisdom and pure zeal, he committed several faults, the consequence 
of errors which belonged to his age rather than to himself: laid 
cruel penalties on Jews and heretics ; and four hundred and fifty 
bankers or merchants of Asti were seized by his orders and cast into 
dungeons for lending money on interest, though at a very moderate 
rate.* A scruple fatal to France disturbed the mind of this holy 
monarch. The conquests of Philip Augustus and the confiscation of 
the property of the English crown oppressed him, and appeared to 
him in the light of usurpations ; and he concluded at Abbeville, in 
T t fAbb 1259, contrary to the advice of his barons and his 
tiolfof a portion f am ily> a treaty, by which he restored to Henry III. 
of Ph e iiip nqueStS Perigord, Limousin, Agenois, Querey, and Saintonge ; 
while Henry on his side gave up his claims to Nor- 
mandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poitou. The prejudices and 
scruples of Saint Louis alone urged him to conclude this unfavour- 
able treaty, which the English monarch could never have obtained 
by force. This prince was at the time at war with his barons, 
who extorted from him the concessions known as " the Provisions 
Arbitration of °^ O x f° ro V' by which they exercised a portion of the 
tween Henryiii ro y a l authority. Such was the reputation of Saint 
and his barons. Louis, that by common accord he was selected as arbi- 
trator between them and their sovereign. He decided in favour of 
Henry III., and the Provisions of Oxford were annulled. 

Almost at the same time that Louis signed the treaty of Abbeville 
he signed with the King of Arragon the treaty of Corbeil, by which 
Treat of Corbeil ^at prince gave up all the fiefs he still possessed in 
l ' m " Languedoc, and his claims to Provence ; in return for 

which France surrendered her suzerainty over the countries of Bar- 

* According to the Laws of the Church, and in the ideas of the middle ages, lending 
money on interest was regarded as a crime. 


celona, Roussillon, and Cerdagne. The King of Arragon only retained 
in France the lordship of Montpellier, and the Pyrenees became the 
frontier of the two States. 

Saint Louis had lost his eldest son, and several members of his 
family proved to be turbulent and dangerous to France. Charles of 
Anjou, his brother, an ambitious and cruel prince, heir by his marriage 
with Beatrice of Provence to the powerful counts of that name,* 
caused him very great anxiety, and, with the intention of removing 
him, Louis favoured his projects with regard to Naples and Sicily, 
then possessions of the Imperial crown. 

The illustrious house of Suabia was humbled ; Frederic II., its last 
Emperor, met with his death in struggling against the Pope, who 
sold his heritage, and offered to the King of France the 
kingdom of Naples, where Manfred, the bastard son of first house of An- 

, jou, at Naples. 

Frederic II., then reigned. Saint Louis refused the offer Battle of Gran- 

° . della, 1266. 

for himself, but allowed his brother to accept it. Charles 
of Anjou left France with an army gathered together in Provence ; 
and six years later, in 1266, the battle of Grandella, where Manfred 
perished, placed the crown of Naples and Sicily securely on his head. 

The East now attracted more forcibly than ever the attention of 
Saint Louis. The Roman Empire in Constantinople was no more ; 
the Creeks had retaken that city in 1261. Taking advantage of the 
divisions among the Christians in Syria, Bendocdard, the 

° J ' Fall of the Roman 

sultan of Egypt, made a series of rapid conquests in Empire in Con- 

bJ r ' r ^ stantinople, 1261. 

Palestine : Csesarea, Jaffa, and Antioch, had fallen into his 
power, and a hundred thousand Christians had been massacred in the 
last-named town. On receiving intelligence of this frightful disaster, 
Saint Louis made a vow that he would take up the Cross for the second 
time. After making pilgrimages to the principal churches in his 

* Provence had for a long time formed part of the kingdom of Aries, composed of the 
two Burgundies, Cis and Transjuran. In 1033 Conrad II., having joined this king- 
dom to the German Empire, Provence, which comprised the four republics of Nice, 
Aries, Avignon, and Marseilles, was detached from it and remained independent under 
sovereign counts. Raymond Berengarius was the last, and Beatrice, his daughter 
and heiress, having married Charles, Count of Anjou, Provence passed into the pos- 
session of the latter, who soon after became King of Naples and Sicily. Such was 
the origin of the powerful house of the Counts of Anjou, Kings of Sicily, and Counts of 
Provence, which became extinct with " Good King Rene," who died in 1480. 

190 SIXTH CRUSADE. [Book I. Chap. V. 

kingdom, he embarked again at Aigues-Mortes, in 1270, and set sail 
for Tunis. He had appointed a rendezvous with his 

Sixth Crusade. ; 

Second De- brother, Charles d Anjou, within the walls of ancient 

parture of Saint 

Louis for the Carthage. He disembarked opposite to this ruined town, 

Holy Land, 1270. & ... 

and had to suffer an infinity of evils, from the dryness of 
the soil, the heat of the sun, and the arrows of the Moors. The plague 
carried away part of his army, which he was compelled to hold back 
in fatal inaction ; it struck down his second son, the Count de ISTevers, 
and he himself was attacked at the end of a month. He employed 
his last moments in giving good counsels jto Philip, his third son and 
his heir. " Dear son," said he to him, " the first thing that I wish to 
impress upon thee is that thou love God ; for without that no one 

can be saved Have a gentle and compassionate heart for the 

poor, for the feeble, and comfort and aid them whenever it is in 
thy power. Maintain the good customs of the kingdom, and destroy 
the bad. Do not covet the property of thy people, and do not charge 

it with rates or taxes Be careful to have the society of 

prudent men, and loyal, who are not full of covetousness. Flee and 
escape from the society of evil men. Listen willingly to the word of 
God, and retain it in thy heart ; seek also willingly for prayers and 
pardons. Love thine honour, and hate evil, of whatever nature it may 
be. Be loyal and firm in rendering justice to thy subjects, neither 
turning to the right hand nor to the left ; but aid and sustain the 
cause of the poor until the truth is brought to light. Guard the cus- 
toms of thy kingdom, and if there be anything to amend, amend it 
and correct it. Give the livings of the holy Church to good men, 
with spotless lives, and act under the advice of men of probity. Keep 
thyself from being moved into war, without great necessity, against 
Christian men. Take care that the expenses of thy household are 
reasonable. Lastly, dear son, see that masses are sung for my soul, 

and prayers offered up for thy kingdom I bestow on you all 

the blessings that a good father can give to his son May God 

give you grace to do always His will, in order that after this mortal 
life we may be with Him, my son, and praise Him together." # 

The King delivered himself up at last entirely to religious observ- 
ances ; he expressed a wish before death to be raised from his bed and 

* Meinoires du Sire du Joinville. 

1226-1270] DEATH OP SAINT LOUIS. 191 

laid upon ashes, and there he expired, holding the crucifix in his arms. 
" On the Monday, the good King raised his clasped hands to heaven, 
and said : — i Lord God, have mercy on the people who dwell here, and 
conduct them into their own land ; let them not fall into the hands of 
their enemies ; and let them not be led to forswear Thy holy name ! ' 
Shortly before his death, and while he was slumbering, he sighed 
and said, in a low tone, ' Jerusalem ! Jerusalem ! ' " * His last 
thoughts were concerning Grod, the Holy City, and France, and he 
gave up the ghost on the 25th of August, 1270, after having ap- 
pointed as regents of the kingdom, Mathieu de Saint- Death of gaint 
Denis and Roger de Nesle. No other king was more Louls ' 12 '°- 
worthy of the admiration of his fellow- men, and alone, out of all his 
race, the Church bestowed on him the honours of canonization. 

* Petri Episl. ap. Spicileyium. 




The two Hundred and ninety years of which we are about to trace the 
principal events were fertile with calamities and also with progress. 
Among the latter, the most worthy- of attention are the gradual and 
constant increase of the royal authority, the birth of the bourqoisie, or 
the Third Estate, which, almost imperceptible at the end of the tenth 
century, started into existence suddenly towards the year 1100, as a 
social power in the first communal revolutions, and finished by 
absorbing nearly the whole nation. 

We have shown, in the preceding chapters, the gradual and suc- 
cessive progress of royalty ; we have seen it grow great under Louis 
the Eat, then afterwards to acquire reality under Philip Augustus, 
by the prodigious extension given to the possessions of 

Conquests by the 

Crown under the the Crown; bv the building of large ships: and bv the 

Feudal system. ... ... . . 

superiority which public opinion accorded to it in 
virtue of an ancient right attached to the royal title and majesty. 
"We see it later adding to its prerogatives by the wise decrees of Saint 
Louis, and removing from the nobles the essential rights of feudal 
power, by the restrictions placed on private warfare, and above all 
by the establishment of a court of justice. The people recognized, in 
the authority of the monarch, the sole power capable of struggling 
with success against their numerous oppressors. They desired that 
this authority should be powerful and awe-inspiring, hoping in case 
of need to lean upon it, and applauded with fervour its rapid pro- 
gress, which was then of a noble and incontestible utility. Louis the 
Eat, in fact, bestowed upon royalty its character of public power 
and protection ; Philip Augustus reconstructed the kingdom, and in- 
spired in the people under his sceptre the sentiment of nationality ; 

1226-1270] THE ROYAL POWER. 193 

Louis IX. impressed on his government a character of equity, a re- 
spect for the public rights, and a love for the public welfare, unknown 
until his time. At this time, then, the development of the royal power 
had produced an epoch of happiness for France ; but the progress of 
this power afterwards, without any counterbalance, insomuch as it is 
considered connected with the true interests and prosperity of the 
nation, ceased with Saint Louis, and was afterwards suspended during 
more than a hundred and fifty years. 

This prince did not regard his authority as absolute ; it had, however, 
no precise limit with him, and the proneness towards despotism was 
easy. Royalty, upon thus being abandoned to it, created great perils 
against France and against itself. Before recalling the new destinies, 
it is necessary to throw a glance at the results which had been produced 
upon the civilization and manners of the French by the great events 
which had agitated Europe for three centuries. One of the most re- 
markable facts of this important period was the rapid development of 
the middle classes. It will be convenient, in the first place, in order to 
give an account of this, to examine the principal constituent elements 
of the communes. of France, and the manner in which the greater part 
obtained their charters of freedom. 

Ancient Gaul was then divided into two parties, distinguished by 
their language. The provinces of the North, where they spoke the 
Roman "Walloon dialect ,* were called Provinces of the ^ . . . „ , 

Division of Gaul 

Langue d'Oil, in consequence of the inhabitants making j?J° l ^ d \^l gilQ 
use of the word oil instead of oui when answering in the Lan £' ue d'OiL. 
affirmative ; they were ruled by customs derived probably from ancient 
Gaul, or perhaps from the German people. The provinces of the 
South, where they spoke the Roman Provencal, received from the 
monosyllable oc, of which the meaning is equally affirmative, the name 
of the Provinces of the Langue d'Oc ; they were ruled by the Roman 
or written law. A great number of the towns throughout the southern 
provinces had preserved the form of municipal govern- 
ment which they had held under the Romans ; others had t0WDS *" the 

•> ' ' eleventh and 

for a long time lost the liberties which that power had twelfth centuries, 
bestowed on them. As to the towns of recent origin, they were built 

* That is to say, one composed of corrupt Latin mixed with the language of ancient 
Gaul. The Walloon country comprised a portion of Belgium. 


•under the auspices of the most powerful noble in the province or 
neighbourhood, and their inhabitants enjoyed those civil rights and 
privileges which it pleased that nobleman to grant or guarantee to 
them. At the time when the feudal system was established, the 
nobles, both ecclesiastical and lay, opposed with all their power the 
municipal franchises. They substituted in great part their own 
authority where franchises existed, and usurped all the rights where 
the franchises were either destroyed or unknown. Those also who, in 
the hope of increasing the population of their fiefs, had guaranteed 
rights and liberties to men who came to settle there, afterwards 
violated, for the most part, their engagements and their charters. 
Nearly all raised arbitrary taxes in the towns, forbade the citizens 
to unite together and arm themselves for the common defence, and 
usurped the right of high and low justice. They disposed also of the 
fortunes and the lives of the citizens, and their oppression soon 
became intolerable. Reduced to despair, the oppressed people fre- 
quently had recourse to arms ; they recalled their ancient franchises, 
requested guarantees for their property and persons, and took advan- 
tage of the avidity of the nobles either to buy back again or conquer 
their liberties. 

The period when the energy of the inhabitants of the towns roused 
L itself coincides with that of the first Crusade ; that event 


of the communes. ^^ a powerful though indirect influence upon the enter- 
prise, and was favourable to it. The nobles needed gold for their 
distant expeditions ; large numbers consented, on receiving consider- 
able sums of money, to resign an authority which a great portion of 
them had usurped. They quitted France for a lengthened period, 
taking with them in their suite a multitude of knights, who, under 
their orders, had been the terror of both town and country. The 
absence of the oppressing party or the weakening of their numbers 
favoured the citizens in their attempts at independence ; but they did 
not unite everywhere so easily. Many towns, after having bought 
their franchises, were obliged to resort to arms in order to preserve them. 
These liberties differed slightly from those which secured municipal 
institutions; but they gave to those holding them a certain extension 
and offered more guarantee. Citizens obtained by them the right to 
form conjurations or communes, that is to say, to defend themselves 


with arms, to elect their mayors, their civil magistrates, their council- 
men, to assess their own taxes, to dispense justice, and manage their 
own public affairs as they pleased. The engagements which they 
undertook amongst them indicated a deep feeling for the rights of 
humanity, and their oath had a grand character of -independence and 
energy. They assembled in the principal church or in the market- 
place, and there they swore on holy relics that they would support 
each other. All those who bound themselves in this manner took 
the name of communiers or of jures, and these titles expressed the 
idea of reciprocal devotedness. The liberties which they asked for, 
however, were not political liberties, such as we understand them at 
the present day. They did not request the power to make laws and 
participate in the government of the State, they wished to obtain strong 
guarantees against servitude, and to free themselves from an insup- 
portable tyranny. They demanded the right to acquire property and 
preserve it, to live in security under established laws, and lastly, that 
civil liberty which at the present day social progress assures to every 
citizen in nearly every part of Europe. 

After being constituted, the. first act of a commune was to choose a 
tower in order to establish a bell or belfry, and the first clause of the 
oath taken by the inhabitants was the obligation to repair to the 
public place of the town, fully armed, as soon as the sound of this bell 
was heard. The communes enfranchised by the nobles engaged 
generally to give them a part of the harvests, to pay a rent for each 
person, and another for each room in their house, and the monopoly 
of the mills and ovens, while the inhabitants were bound to a personal 
service of a fixed number of days. Lastly, the merchants were obliged 
to hold an open credit with their ancient master, up to a certain sum. 
Notwithstanding these hard conditions, and the most solemn oaths, 
a great number of nobles wished to break the treaties, the price of 
which they had spent, as soon as they felt powerful enough to violate 
them with impunity. The citizens struggled almost everywhere with 
courage, but they understood the necessity of obtaining a sanction 
which would be respected by the nobles themselves. They appealed to 
the kings, and prayed to be delivered from the charters of enfranchise- 
ment, and to be taken under their protection. The kings of France 
saw in this demand a source of riches for themselves and a means of 

o 2 


patronage directly opposed to the nobles, whom they distrusted ; they 
sold, then, their support to the communes of the kingdom, and so 
added much to their own authority. Louis YI. was the first who 
granted these charters, but he did not create the communes, nor did 
he enfranchise their inhabitants. The towns conquered their liberties 
for themselves, and the King only made legitimate liberties already 
obtained, by selling his supreme sanction. These royal acts, done with 
that special motive, strengthened the monarchy, by uniting its cause 
with that of the people. But at this period the effective royal power 
only made itself felt between the Somme and the Loire, and the only 
towns to which Louis VI. sold his charters were Beauvais, Noyou, 
Soissons, Amiens, Saint- Riquier, Saint- Que ntin, and Abbeville. In 
the other parts of France proper, the kings, until the time of Saint 
Louis, had no part in the maintenance of the liberties of the communes, 
as the counts would not suffer the royal intervention. 

In the towns of the southern country the establishment of communes 
met with fewer obstacles than in the north, the struggle was shorter, 
and the success more decisive ; the feudal system laid itself less heavily 
upon them ; while the greater part preserved something of the ancient 
municipal institutions which Rome had bestowed on them. These 
flourishing towns, such as Aries, Narbonne, and Toulouse, kept up, 
besides, frequent commercial relations with the cities of Lombardy, 
where the republican spirit commenced to rule, and we see rapidly the 
consulat municipal * pass from Italy into southern France : there the 
commercial system only helped to develope and guarantee the liberty 
of the citizens. 

We have seen the restrictions brought to bear by Saint Louis on the 
independence of the towns which he preserved from anarchy by 
maintaining there the royal authority : wisely checked, the communal 
revolution was fruitful in happy results. The country gentlemen living 
near the towns envied the fate of their inhabitants ; a large number of 
them abandoned their seigneurial lands, in order to become themselves 
members of the communes, and many towns, of which the population 
increased by this means, placed their walls farther back. It was in 

* Until the French Revolution, the name of consul was preserved by the municipal 
magistrates of the towns of the south. At Toulouse the hotel-de-ville is still called the 


this manner that the power of the cities increased by degrees, while 
that of the chateaux was enfeebled. When each person in the towns 
had obtained security for his life, for his fortune, and for the free enjoy- 
ment of the fruits of his work, industry arose and commerce extended 
itself. The bourgeois class became every day stronger, richer, more 
respectable ; the general feeling of ease increased, and civilization made 
rapid steps. This progress was more perceptible and more prompt in 
Flanders than in the other countries of the north. The maritime 
situation of most of the great cities favoured the establishment of 
manufactories which enriched the citizens, and accustomed them at 
all times to unite together all their efforts against ravages by sea. 
After having ascertained that it was sufficient for them to associate 
together to rule the ocean, they were all prepared to unite in order 
to struggle against feudal oppression and to triumph over ifc. 

But among all the events which characterized the eleventh and 
twelfth centuries, those which ruled the epoch, and which exercised 
the greatest influence upon the spirit, the manners, and 
the existence of all classes of the nation, were the Crusades, crusades upon 


Until then the wild valour of the warriors of the East, 
excited by a thirst for domination and riches, had only had for its 
aim conquests of a material kind. The Crusades in the Holy Land did 
not soften the soldier-rudeness of manners ; but they gave to courage 
a more noble and more elevated aim. They spiritualized its origin. 
Men accustomed themselves to fight, to undergo the most cruel priva- 
tions, to give their lives for something that was immaterial and ideal, 
for a cause that elevated their souls ; they felt themselves destined for 
another end than that of gratifying their own gross inclinations. 
Those distant expeditions, in transporting innumerable multitudes to 
so great a distance from their country, weakened the national hates and 
prejudices of the different classes. It was impossible that so many 
men, armed for the same cause, could close their hearts to all 
sentiment of fraternity. The manners of the nobility, above all, proved 
the happy effects of the Crusades. The religious enthusiasm gave 
birth to chivalry, which shone forth with the most sparkling 
brilliancy at the end of this epoch. To serve God, and 
to cherish and respect his lady, to defend intrepidly, lance in hand, 
towards and against all, this double object of an enthusiastic worship, — 


such was tlie duty of a preuas chevalier. Domesticity was considered 
noble service ; the court of the sovereign, the castles of the nobles, 
became schools where young gentlemen learnt to serve under the names 
of varlets, gallants, knights, and to merit also themselves the supreme 
honour of chivalry. The study of letters or science did not enter into 
the education of a gentleman, who passed for an accomplished man 
when he knew how to pray to Grod, to serve the ladies, to fight, to hunt, 
and to manage his horse and lance. Beyond that his ignorance was 
absolute, and we must attribute, above all things, to the want of 
intellectual instruction, the singular mixture of fanatical superstition, 
brutal violence, sincere purity, enthusiasm for women, and the mixture 
of courtesy and ferocity which the chivalresque character displayed for 
so long a time. 

It is to the first Crusade that we must go back for the usages 
Armorial bear- concerning the family names of the nobility. It was 
ings. Heraldry, necessary in these immense collections of men of many 
nations, that every knight should be recognized by a name that should 
be proper to himself, and for the most part they adopted that of them 
fief. Armorial bearings and heraldic emblems are of the same date. 
An extraordinary brilliancy was connected in public opinion with the 
exploits of the Crusades. The nobles, in order to perpetuate the remem- 
brance of them, placed in their castles, in the most conspicuous place, 
the banners under which they had fought in the Holy Land ; they were 
the monuments of their glory, and the members of their families, on 
going out themselves, communicated these signs of illustration. The 
ladies embroidered the device on their furniture, on their robes, and on 
those of their husbands ; the warriors caused them to be painted upon 
their shields, and indicated in an abridged manner the exploits that 
these ensigns recalled. An arch signified a bridge defended or taken ; 
by a battlement, a tower was designated ; by a helmet, the complete 
armour of a vanquished enemy. Each of these distinctive signs 
became the escutcheon of a family, and the domestics exhibited them- 
selves bedizened with it on the occasion of ceremonies. Heraldry was 
the art of interpreting these emblems ; it was in principle a species 
of language by which alliances and rights to public esteem were 
made known. 

The first essays of French poetry belong to this time. The trouveres- 

1226-1270] POETRY. FINE ARTS. 199 

in the north, and the troubadours in the south, composed songs which 
the minstrels or singers recited from castle to castle, accompanying 
themselves on instruments. The trouveres were distinguished above 
all in the epic style. The adventures of the Crusades or some mar- 
vellous legend inspired them. Their most celebrated works are : 
U Alexandre, by Alexandre de Bernay (the originator of the Alex- 
andrine verse) ; Gerard de Nevers, by Gilbert de Montreuil ; Garin 
le Loherain, by Jehan de Flagy ; and above all the famous Homan de 
la Hose, or the Art of Loving, by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean 
de Meung. To them also we are indebted for several lays, virelays, 
and fables, remarkable for their natural grace. 

The troubadours, on the contrary, among whom we reckon 
Bertrand de Born, Raimond Beranger, Arnauld Daniel, William IX. 
Count of Poictiers, cultivated in preference the lyric style, which 
they named the "gay science." 

The French language then disengaged itself from the Latin forms, 
and became that of the legists, of the chroniclers and romancers, or 
trouveres. The Assises or laws of the kingdom of Jerusalem were 
written in this language, so also were the chronicles of Ville-Hardouin, 
Marshal of Champagne, who describes the fourth Crusade ; and that of 
the Sire de Joinville, a biography of Saint Louis. This latter work, 
charmingly written, is perhaps the most curious monument of the 
French language in the thirteenth century. 

The arts also made progress during the period of the Crusades. We 
see these arising in several of the most curious monu- 
ments of architecture, called Ogival, which we admire in Sculpture, 
the Gothic cathedrals. These were decorated with the 
productions of a statuary, coarse as yet, but full of originality, and by 
the rich paintings which illuminate their glass, of which the secret, it 
is said, goes back as far as the tenth century. The greatest progress 
in painting at this period manifested itself in the chefs-d'oeuvre in 
miniature which decorated the missals and the livres d'heures, of which 
a great number have been handed down from age to age, and are 
still admired at the present day. 

Tournaments also date their birth from the same period. These 
military games were intimately connected with the 
manners of chivalry. The times which preceded and 
followed that of chivalry offer nothing resembling them. People 


hurried from all parts of the kingdom, as to national fetes ; gentle- 
men fought there armed cap-a-pie, with lances, axes, and swords, of 
which the steel had been blunted ; sometimes the combat was allowed 
to proceed to extremity. The cavaliers sought to surpass each other in 
the games, not only in magnificence but in strength, in address, and in 
courage. They appeared there distinguished by their mottoes, under 
the eyes of kings, of princes, and of ladies, the applause of whom they 
were ambitious to gain : the ladies gave the prizes to the victors. The 
tournaments were regulated by a particular legislation, of which the 
principal author was Geoffroi de Preuilly. 

The most celebrated religious military orders were founded by the 

French on the occasion of the first Crusade, and from France they 

spread themselves over the whole of Europe. The first 

Religious Orders. *„ . 

were the Hospitallers of Saint John and the Temjylars ; 
they devoted themselves humbly to the service of the Holy Land, and 
from soldier-monks? as they were at first, they became sovereigns. A 
third order, that of the Antonines, consecrated themselves to the relief 
of those who were attacked by a species of plague called holy fire. It 
is to Christian charity that humanity was indebted for the foundation 
of Ecclesiastical Orders, which, for the most part, enriched at last by 
pious largesses, deviated from, their aim? and degenerated from their 
holy origin. The orders of Hospitallers, instituted for the purpose of 
ransoming prisoners taken by the Infidels, and for the relief of the 
sick, were founded later ; also the celebrated order of the Dominicans 
or Freres precheurs, and also that of the Franciscans or Cordeliers, so 
called from the cord which served them for a girdle. These two last 
were called mendicant orders, because they made a vow of poverty and 
lived upon alms, according to the formal instructions of their illus- 
trious founders Saint Francois d'Assise and Saint Dominique de Guz- 
man. They acquired great power in a short time ; in virtue of papal 
commissions they preached, administered the sacraments, and directed 
the consciences of kings and people, thus taking away by degrees all 
the functions of the bishops and of the secular clergy.* Not having 
anything, they possess all things, said the chancellor Pierre des Yignes 

* The secular clergy was so called because it lived in the world, in the siecle. It 
was composed of all the ecclesiastics who were not under vows in a religious community. 
The ecclesiastical members of communities, or inhabitauts of convents, composed the 
regular clergy. 

1226-1270] COMMERCE. 201 

to the Emperor Frederic II. They sapped into the bases of the 
ancient hierarchy of the Church ; for they annulled in some sort the 
power of the bishops, whose authority they braved. They wished 
also to direct the schools and to take to themselves the chairs of the 
University, where the secular clergy still ruled. The g le f 
latter resisted, and an obstinate struggle resulted. The ordersT^ainst 
dispute lasted thirty years, and was prolonged during a the Universlt y- 
large portion of the reign of Saint Louis. At last, after lengthened 
storms and reciprocal excommunications, the University was com- 
pelled to yield by Pope Alexander IY. The mendicant orders 
obtained some of the chairs in the schools, and the University con- 
ferred the grade of Doctor upon two illustrious members of these 
orders, on the Franciscan, Bonaventura, and on the Dominican, 
Saint Thomas dAquinas, who was surnamed the Angel of the School, 
and whose theological writings excited the enthusiastic admiration 
of his contemporaries. 

The religious movement of the Crusades was very favourable to 
this prodigious increase of the power of the monks, and provoked 
the establishment of a multitude of pious foundations. The vast 
and magnificent monasteries of Cluny and Citeaux were gorged with 
wealth ; they served as places of assembly for the nobility, and the 
abbes were admitted into the councils of the kings. 

The Crusades communicated in everything a lively and strong 
impulse to civilization and to manners. Propitious to the enfran- 
chisement of the communes, they favoured also the progress of the 
bourgeoisie by the extension which they gave to commerce. The 
delicacies of the Bast caused new wants to arise ; the _ 

' Commerce. 

merchants, hitherto despised, acquired more considera- Industi y- 
tion, and formed the link between Europe and Asia. Maritime com- 
merce, above all, which scarcely existed before the Crusades, acquired 
by them a very vast development ; European industry gained equally 
by the expeditions of the Crusaders. Silk stuffs, spices, perfumes, and 
the other treasures of the East, were known in Europe from the time 
of the Carlovingians ; but they were only seen in the courts of princes 
or the dwellings of the great. During this period the art of dyeing 
the tissues of silk was brought to perfection, and amongst the principal 
conquests of industry in the thirteenth century we must reckon saffron, 

202 THE SERFS. [Book I. Chap. VI. 

indigo, the sugar-cane, and the art of extracting its precious contents. 
The rich tissues of Damascus, the glass of Tyre, imitated in Venice, 
and which was afterwards substituted for metallic mirrors, windmills, 
and cotton stuffs, were also made known at this period to Europeans, 
who learnt at the same time damaskeening, the engraving of seals and 
money, and the manner of applying enamel to metals. The towns 
had become, partly by the effect of the Crusades, the centres of free 
„ , „. activity, of commerce, and of wealth ; luxury extended 

Progress of the J ' ' J 

Third Estate. itself in every direction. The manner of living, of fur- 
nishing, of feeding, became different ; ease increased in the houses of 
the nobles and the bourgeoisie, and the Third Estate made with these 
rapid progress. 

In all the towns workmen of different professions formed particular 
associations, called corporations, in which the members 
found a support in one another, and an assistance for 
the aged, the widows, and the orphans. Each of these was instituted 
under the invocation of a saint, who was looked upon as its patron. 
They had all chiefs, and syndics or juries, who prevented frauds and 
watched the observation of the rules. These assured to the members 
of each corporation the monopoly of their industry after a long and 
severe apprenticeship. The rules of Saint Louis constituted the chiefs 
of the trades the police of their corporation, and rendered them 
responsible for the disorders committed in their body. 

The last and most numerous class of the nation was that which 
received the least advantages from these expeditions ; 

Thfi serfs 

nevertheless, the unfortunate serfs were not total strangers 
to their results. The Popes decided that no Christian, in whatever 
condition he might be born, could be prevented from taking up the 
Cross and departing for the Holy Land. This was to sever at one 
blow the ties which bound the serfs to the glebe or the land of their 
lord. It admitted them to a species of fraternity in arms, and dis- 
played to their eyes the consoling sentiment of their individual dignity 
as members of the human family. But although these peasants, who 
had become soldiers of the Church, obtained their enfranchisement, the 
establishment of a free class of peasants did not follow as a result. 
Of that great multitude of men who left for Palestine, only a small 
number returned to their country ; the greater part perished of misery, 

1226-1270] ABEILARD. 203 

of fatigue, and of excess, or were cut down by the scimitars of the 

The human mind, stimulated by different and powerful causes, 
made notable progress during the period of the Crusades ; and already, 
under Louis VI., the schools of Paris had attained great 
celebrity. This was the first epoch of scholastic phi- 
losophy* only taught from the chairs of the University, and of the 
famous quarrels between the philosophic sect of the 
'Realists and that of the Nominate. The first only Realists and of 
admitted reality in that which they called the universaux, 
that is to say, general ideas, collective beings, and attached itself to the 
Platonic theories ; the second only saw in the universauoc, words, 
names, simple abstractions of the mind, and depended in preference 
on the theories of Aristotle. These two schools had for their chiefs 
two men of great renown. Roscelin de Compiegne professed with 
brilliancy, in the twelfth century, the doctrine of the JVominals, while 
his realistic adversary, Gruillaume de Champeaux, was director of the 
school of the cloister, Notre Dame, at Paris. Then appeared the 
Breton, Pierre Abeilard, as much celebrated for his 
amours with Heloise and by his own misfortunes, as by 
his science and his immortal genius. Profound logician, without a 
rival in dialectics, and of a marvellous eloquence, Abeilard shone forth 
in the first ranks of the JVominals. His prodigious success in philosophy 
did not shake his religious and Christian faith; but he wished to 
submit the Catholic dogmas to analysis, to comment upon them 
reasonably. His principles upon different points of theology, and 
among others upon Free Will, appeared to be in opposition to the 
decisions of the councils, and for the first time he was condemned by 
the Council of Soissons for having taught without previously obtain- 
ing the approbation of the Pope and of the Church. Abeilard retired 
into the solitary, sandy district of Champagne, where he raised with 
his own hands an oratory, composed of thatch and rushes, which 
afterwards became the celebrated Abbey of Paracleti His disciples, 
and among them the illustrious Arnold of Brescia, discovered his 
retreat ; they hurried from all parts ; they braved the austerities of the 
desert in order to follow their master, to hear his words, to pray and 

* The philosophy called scholastic was subordinate in all its affirmations to theology. 


to meditate with him. Persecuted, condemned afresh, Abeilard sought 
a more profound retreat in the Abbey of Saint- Gildas, in Brittany. 
Then, suddenly, braving his enemies, he reappeared brilliantly in 
Paris, where his renown drew together a number of students from all 
parts of Europe. His books flew from hand to hand, his doctrines 
spread themselves from the capital to the extremities of the kingdom, 
his glory was at its height, when a redoubtable antagonist crushed him 
under the thunderbolts of the irritated Church. This was Saint 
Bernard, founder of the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux. 

Stru * *^ between 

Abeilard and This illustrious man pushed the monasterial austerities to 
an almost unheard-of rigour, living a life more ecstatic 
than terrestrial. Bearing in a body weak, pale, reduced by watchings 
and fastings, an incomparable vigour of soul, leaning his words and 
his acts on the authority that gives the conviction of a holy mission 
and a supernatural inspiration, no one exercised more power over his 
contemporaries in an age when the faith of the people was so strong 
and their reason so weak. The Pope, the emperor, the kings, the 
bishops, the people, submitted to the authority of his genius ; at one 
time he extinguished a schism, or drew up in the solitude of his cell the 
constitution of a religious order ; at another, disposing at his pleasure 
of the sword of kings, he directed their armies to the east or the 
south, according to the interests of the Church. His word, they said, 
was as a law of fire, which went forth out of his mouth, and every- 
where there were reports of the marvellous cures which followed his 
steps. This prodigious man taxed with pride the reason which 
attempted to explore mysteries ; he was irritated with the efforts of 
Abeilard to explain inexplicable dogmas, and cried out in the bitter- 
ness of his spirit, — " They would search even into the entrails, the 
secrets, of God." A new council assembled at Sens, and the two great 
adversaries appeared there in presence of the King, the princes, and 
the bishops ; but Abeilard foresaw, without doubt, that the discussion 
would not be free; he declined the solemn debate, making an appeal 
to the Pope as he retired from it, and was condemned to seclusion in a 
convent to the end of his days. Then, bending his head, he confessed 
himself vanquished, and concealed his life in the monastery of Cluny ; 
he closed it in 1142, in the priory near to Chalons, where he died, 
reconciled with Saint Bernard. He had had to combat with a far 


1226-1270] SCIENCE. 205 

niore redoubtable adversary than that great man. Abeilard struggled 
all his life against the dominant spirit of his age, which regarded 
every attempt made by human reason to attain at independence as a 
culpable insurrection. The genius which had animated him survived 
him, but many years passed away before any part of Europe dared to 
proclaim and admit the principle of which Abeilard could not assure 
the triumph — the liberty of examination and discussion in matters of 
conscience and of faith. 

Already, however, the secrets of nature were studied, but the dark- 
ness was as yet too profound to permit the human mind 


to attain its aim. The study of mathematics became 
that of astrology. Medicine degenerated into sorcery, and natural 
philosophy into alchemy. Nevertheless, in the midst of these gropings 
in the dark, science made some important discoveries : the alchemists, 
who endeavoured obstinately to find the grand ceuvre, or the philoso- 
pher's stone, discovered by chance various properties of the bodies 
submitted to analysis, and the world was enriched by these discoveries, 
which they looked upon as nothing. It is thus that distillation was 
brought to light, the fabrication of acids, salts, convex lenses, and 
lastly, gunpowder, the composition of which was discovered by the 
monk, Roger Bacon, towards the close of the thirteenth century. 

Finally, many sciences are indebted to the Crusades for great pro- 
gress, among others the military art, navigation, history, and geo- 
graphy. The aspect of so many different countries, the observation 
of new and varied manners, and the comparison of a multitude of 
customs, extended the ideas of the people, and uprooted a great number 
of errors and prejudices. Nevertheless, a great part of the ameliora- 
tions of which the Crusades were the cause only manifested themselves 
very slowly, while others did not bear their fruit until long after 
Europe had given up these religious expeditions. The Crusades were 
also accompanied and followed by a great number of calamities, and 
it is necessary to recognize one of their most mournful results in the 
sanguinary ardour which they appear to have communicated to the 
Christians, a disposition entirely contrary to that of the Divine 
founder of their religion. The Christian people for a long time back, 
it is true, regarded as accursed of Grod all those who did not belong 
to their faith ; the Crusades strengthened this fatal tendency of their 


minds. People who were reputed heretics were soon persecuted with 
as much fury as the Mussulmans and Jews, and the extermination of 
the Albigenses opened the field for a long series of cruel wars. The 
weakness of the progress of Christianity in the East, and several of 
the disasters among the Christians in Palestine, ought to be in great 
part attributed to the barbarities of the Crusaders, who believed them- 
selves entitled to act as they pleased towards infidels, and did not 
consider themselves bound to keep their word with them. They 
forgot that the best proof that men can give of the superiority of 
their civilization and of the sanctity of their religion is the respect 
that they show for virtue and truth. 

1270-1422] ACCESSION OF PHILIP III. 207 




Despotism op the Royal Government and Authority of the Legists. 
— Accession of the Yalois to the Throne. — Hundred Years' 
War with England. — The Celebrated States-General. — 
Disasters in France. — Great Schism of the East. — Anarchy. — 





Philip III. 

The third son of Saint Louis, Philip III., called without any known 
reason Philip the Bold, did not follow the glorious example of his 
father ; he reigned surrounded by valets, and wholly given up to 
superstitious practices. 

The same day that Saint Louis died he received Charles d'Anjou, 
his uncle, who entered into the port of Carthage with a fleet and an 
army. Notwithstanding this reinforcement the Crusaders rested in 
inaction, rightly accusing Charles d'Anjou of having directed his 
brother to Tunis in his own interest, so that he might force the 
Moorish king to pay to him the tribute which ancient Neapolitan 
treaties imposed upon him. Peace was concluded that year ; a large 
sum of money was handed over by the African prince, and all the 
prisoners given up. Then the army returned to Europe, diminished 
to one-half by the heat, the fatigue, and the plague. In sight of the 


coast of Sicily, a tempest swallowed up eighteen French vessels, 
together with all the rich tribute paid by the King of Tunis. The 
Crusaders saw in this disaster the hand of God, which chastised them 
for having returned without visiting the Holy Land. Philip re-entered 
France preceded by five coffins, those of his father, his wife, his son, 
his brother, the Count of Nevers, and of his brother-in-law, Thi- 
baut II., Count of Champagne, King of Navarre. His uncle Alphonso* 
died shortly afterwards without offspring, and his death made Philip 
heir to the county of Toulouse, which, notwithstanding 

Aggrandizement „ . . 

of the Royal all the disasters of the war with the Albigenses, was 

Domain. , m 

still the most considerable fief m France. It comprised, 
together with ancient Languedoc, the Marquisate of Provence, or 
county of Venaissin, the county of Poitiers, the land of Auvergne, 
the Aunis, and a part of the Saintonge. Gregory X., one of the most 
venerable men that ever occupied the Pontifical throne, was elected 
Pope. Philip ceded to him the county of Yenaissin, to which he 
himself had only doubtful rights, and engaged himself in wars of 
Cession of the succession. Alphonso X., King of Leon and Castille, 
siTto 7 the V pope" was dead, without having been able to cause his grand- 
1274, sons to be recognized as his successors ; they were the 

children of Ferdinand of Cerda, and Blanche, the daughter of Saint 
Louis. Philip III. appealed in vain concerning their rights to the 
throne of their grandfather. The Cortes^ of Segovia had designed 
as the successor of Alphonso, Sancho, his second son, already cele- 
brated for his warlike talents 5 their decision overthrew all the prin- 
ciples of legitimacy. 

A thick cloud conceals from us the particular actions of Philip III. ; 
_. , he appeared to see and to act only through Pierre de la 

Disgrace and ± r •> ° 

execution of Brosse, who had been his chamberlain, and who, raised 

Pierre de la ' ' ' 

Brosse, 1278. ky. J3 ase intrigues to the post of prime minister, had 
drawn upon himself the hate of all the court. A bloody catastrophe 
terminated the days of that favourite. Jealous of the influence of the 
Queen, Marie de Brabant, second wife of the King, he had accused her 
of the death of Prince Louis, eldest son of his first wife. Philip 

* Alphonso, brother of Saint Louis, had married Jeanne, daughter and heiress of 
Raymond VII., last Count of Toulouse. 
t Cortes. The national assemblies of Spain were so called. 

1270-1328] THE SICILIAN VESPERS. 209 

ordered inquiries to be made on the subject. t At that time they 
believed that they could not find out the authors of a crime except 
by the torture of the accused, or by the intervention of the celestial 
and infernal powers. Philip consulted those persons whom the super- 
stition of the time looked upon as being endowed with the power 
of reading the future. The Vidame of the Church of Laon, a Sara- 
baite,* and a nun of Nivelles, were considered to have revelations. 
All three at once began to give credence to the reports spread about 
against the Queen; but afterwards they retracted, and advised the 
King to beware of Pierre de la Brosse. Two years passed away, 
when one day a monk brought to the King at Milan letters sealed 
with the seal of his minister. The contents of these letters remain 
a mystery ; but La Brosse was arrested immediately and thrown into 
prison. Philip appointed as his judges three of the greatest nobles in 
his court, his enemies ; and La Brosse was condemned, and hanged 
at the gibbet of Montfaucon in 1278. 

The reign of Philip III. left no glorious souvenir for France, either 
in the interior of the kingdom or in foreign lands, and this period was 
marked by the frightful disaster which overthrew the French Grovern- 
ment in Sicily. Charles d'Anjou, after having caused his rival, the 
young Conradin, son of Conrad IV. and grandson of Frederic II., to 
be condemned to death and executed, believed himself securely seated 
upon his new throne. Conradin was the last prince of the house of 
Hohenstaufen ; his death left the field clear for Charles d'Anjou, 
who from that time believed that he could oppress Naples and Sicily 
under a frightful tyranny. 

Vengeance brooded in every heart"; John of Procida became tho 
soul of the conspiracy : he was certain of the assistance of the 
Greek Emperor, Michael Paleologus, and of the King of Aragon,, 
Don Pedro III. The latter assembled together a fleet, which he 
entrusted to the celebrated Roger of Loria, his admiral, with the order 
to await events upon the coast of Africa. Suddenly, on the 30th of 
March, 1282, the people of Palermo arose at the mo- - „,, „. 

' x *■ The Sicilian 

ment when the vesper bells sounded. At the stroke of Ves P era , 1282. 

* Monks who did not live in community and did not submit themselves to any rule 
were so called ; they, however, wore the tonsure and gave themselves out a3 rigorists. 
(Du Cange : Glossary.) 


this tocsin, the French were massacred in the streets of Palermo, and 
in a month afterwards the same thing had occurred throughout the 
whole of Sicily. Charles d'Anjou, furious, attacked Messina ; Roger 
of Loria came forward and destroyed his fleet under his very eyes. 
Charles gave vent to cries of rage, and demanded vengeance from 
King Philip, his nephew. The Pontiff, Martin IV., sustained his 
cause with ardour ; he declared Don Pedro deprived of the crown of 
Aragon, in order to punish him for having assisted the Sicilians, and 
by the same bull he named Charles de Valois, second son of Philip, 
successor to Don Pedro, against whom he preached a crusade. 
Philip III. commanded the expedition, but it was unfortunate : 
Gironne opposed a long resistance to France, while the 

Crusade of the rr ... 

French into King of Arag-on, with his faithful Almogavares * half 

Aragon. ° ° ° ' 

savage soldiers, held the neighbouring mountains. His 
unexpected and multiplied attacks, together with dearth and fever, 
mowed down the army of Philip ; he returned to France ill and 
almost alone, carried on a litter, and expired in the course of the 

year. Charles d'Anjou died shortly before him, through 
Philip in., 1284. disappointment at having lost Sicily ; and Martin IV. 
and the King of Aragon followed Philip closely to the grave. 

During this reign, a simple gentleman, called Rodolph, Count of 

Hapsbure:, was elected Emperor in 1273, and became 

Foundation of r & ' r ' 

the imperial the founder of the new house of Austria. One of the 

house of Haps- 

burg, 1273. most remarkable events of this period was the sudden 

reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches, effected by Gregory X. 
in 1274, at the second General Council of Lyons. The Emperor, 
Michael Paleologus, was received by the Pope into the number of the 
faithful ; but the Greeks did not lend themselves to this reconciliation, 
which nearly cost the Emperor his life. 


Philip IV., surnamed the Fair, was sixteen years of age 

Accession of ' 7^0 

Philip iv, 1284. -when ne succeeded to the throne of Philip the Bold, 

* This name, borrowed from the Arabs, was applied in Catalonia to light infantrj 

1270-1328] ACCESSION OF PHILIP IV. " 211 

his father. His extreme youth did not offer an occasion for any 
trouble ; and such was the progress of the monarchical spirit in 
France, that the nobles of the kingdom, instead of claiming to be 
either his equals or masters, assembled round him as his servants. 
Philip at once continued the war against Aragon, which his brother 
had commenced, and which was prolonged for many years w 
without any decisive success. It was terminated by Ara 8' on - 
the Treaty of Tarascon, signed in 1291, and confirmed by that of 
Aragon. These treaties recognized Alphonso III., son of 
Pedro III., Kins: of Aragon, and Charles II., son of Tarascon and of 

. . . Aragon, 1289. 

Oharles d'Anjou, King of Naples. The new house of 
Anjou was thus firmly established in the possession of this beautiful 
kingdom, from which, however, Sicily was detached and given up to 
the sovereigns of Aragon. Charles II., crowned by the Pope, ceded 
his hereditary domains, Maine and Anjou, to Charles de Yalois, second 
son of Philip the Bold. 

The first ordinances of the new King were favourable to the bour- 
geoisie and the Jews ; but Philip, whose character was hard, irascible, 
and rapacious, put no curb on his pride and cupidity. He oppressed 
his subjects without pity, and in his exactions was supported by un- 
principled men of law, notorious for their skill in the art 

-*■ x Authority of 

of chicanery, as well as for their base servility. These the legists. 
legists, judges, councillors, and royal officers, were, under him, the 
tyrants of France ; their work, however, in so far as it touched legisla- 
tion, had a useful influence which cannot be forgotten. Imbued with 
the ideas of the Roman imperial law, they proceeded with an impas- 
sible perseverance to introduce it into the French political law by 
joining together the privileges of the sovereignty in the sole hands 
of the prince, and by the equality of the subjects before the law. In 
civil law they played the same part ; the Pandects always before them, 
they tried to introduce the same spirit of reason and of natural 
oquity which had inspired the great jurisconsults of the empire. In 
this manner they demolished the social order, as it had been created 
under the feudal system, organized at the same time monarchical 
centralization, and became the true founders of the civil order in 
modern times. 

The court of the King, or Parliament, the supreme tribunal of the 

p 2 


Parliament of kingdom, became the seat of their power. This body-, 
Paris, 1302. founded by Saint Louis with the political and judicial 
privileges of the time, was modified by Philip IV. ; the judicial 
element at this period alone was preserved.* The Parliament in the 
meantime ceased to be itinerant. An ordinance of the 23rd of March, 
J 302, fixed it in Paris, and established it in the Cite, at the ancient 
palace of the kings, which took from that time the name of the 
Palace of Justice. It was composed of clerks and jurisconsults, all 
persons of the Third Estate, and it became the focus of the anti- 
feudal revolution. 

In order to sustain this new form of government, to make it 
respected, and to execute the judgments of the men of law, it was 
necessary to have an imposing force. The King had to pay a judicial 
and administrative army, and the maintenance of the horse and foot 
sergeants alone cost large sunns, and it was necessary to wrest this 
money by violence from the unfortunate population. Thence sprang- 
the despotism, thence the cruel miseries, which held in suspense for so 
long a time the advantages of the central and monarchical power, and 
the barbarous rule established by the feudal government. 

No prince employed more iniquitous and odious means of increasing 
Cui able ^ s t ,reasm y than Philip the Fair. History recounts a 

exactions. thousand instances of his violent and cruel extortions. 
The revenues of most of the provinces were pledged to two Italian 
brothers, rich traders, for the price of supplies which they had fur- 
nished to the King. He, in order to settle with them, caused all the- 
Italian bankers and traders to be arrested on the same day, under the 
pretext of usurious traffic, and compelled them to redeem themselves 
from torture at an enormous sum. He renewed this execrable expe- 
dient on the French, and the tribunals were the accomplices of his 
hateful violence. 

This king, far from warlike, saw without emotion the disasters 
among the Christians, and the capture of Saint Jean d'Acre, their last 
stronghold in Palestine. He had obtained from the Pope the per- 
mission to levy tithes upon the clergy for the purpose of undertaking 
a crusade ; but this impost only profited himself, and he alone reaped 

* It was not so in the course of time ; and a century later, the Parliament recovered by 
union with the Court of Peers its political privileges. 

1270-1328] WAR IN GUIENNE. 213 

the produce. The successes of Edward I., King of England, troubled 
.him more. That prince, at the death of Alexander III., King of 
Scotland, caused himself to be recognized as arbiter be- Troubleg . 
tween the aspirants to the throne, and had awarded it Scotland - 
to John Baliol, whose weakness he knew. He threatened to invade 
that kingdom, when Philip caused him to be summoned before the 
Parliament of Paris as his vassal for Aquitaine. Peace had reigned 
for thirty-five years between the two crowns, and Philip, in sum- 
moning his powerful rival to appear, alleged as a pretext certain 
troubles caused by the rivalry of commerce between the two nations. 
Edward, indignant, stirred up as enemies to France, Adolph of 
Nassau, King of the Romans,* and Guy de Dampierre, Count of 
Flanders. But Philip seized the daughter of that count 

War in Guienne.. 

by treachery, and held her as a hostage, while a French 
army invaded Guienne, of which Philip the Fair took possession. He 
pledged himself, on the other side, to King Baliol to take up arms, 
-and support the celebrated Scotchman, William Wallace, against the 
F]nglish monarch. 

He afterwards formed an alliance with the revolted Flemings, and 
excited Albert of Austria, son of Rodolph of Hapsburg, to take up 
arms against Adolph of Nassau. Many of the electors of the empire 
supported him. Adolph of Nassau was slain, or perhaps assassinated, 
in a battle ; Albert of Austria succeeded him in the empire, and de- 
fended the interests of France. Philip the Fair displayed remarkable 
talent in all these negotiations. Edward, pressed on all sides, proposed 
to Philip to submit their differences to the decision of Pope Boni- 
face VIII. That Pontiff was, in some respects, indebted 
for his tiara to the King of France, who accepted him as arbiter 


arbiter. Boniface pronounced in his favour, and only Edward i. and 
ordered the restitution of a part of the lands confiscated 
under Edward. He imposed a long truce between the two kings, and 
united their interests by means of marriages. The King of England 
abandoned the Count of Flanders, and Philip no longer defended 
Scotland, which Edward seized for the second time. The French 
.monarch then, with flattering promises, invited the Count of Flanders 
to place himself at his discretion. That unfortunate nobleman gave 

* The term "King of the Romans" was applied to th chief elected for the empira 
&i Germany before his coronation by the Pope. 


himself up with confidence to the King. He was immediately thrown 

Confiscation of * D ^° P r i son ? arL d all his states were seized by Philip, who 

pianders. g ave to ^ Fi em i n g S Jacques de Chatillon for a governor. 

The French gentlemen despised the bourgeois of that industrious 

country, and believed that they had the right to despoil them. The 

tyranny which they exercised excited the people of 

Revolt of the tti -i i mi 

Flemings, 1301. ± landers to revolt. The trades corporations assembled 

War in Flanders. 

together, massacred the French in Bruges, and in the 
other towns, restoring independence to their country. The Flemish 
militia occupied Courtray, in front of which town the French army 
Battle of Cour- was encanT P e( l. They went out to meet it, and waited 
cJ3eat S oTthe nary b rave ly f° r the battle. The Flemings attended mass and 
French, 1302. took the sacrament together. The knights who were with 
them embraced the chiefs of the trades. They gave no quarter to the 
French, and repeated that Chatillon was coming with casks full of cords 
to hang them with. The Constable, Raoul de Nesle, proposed to turn 
the flank of the Flemings by cutting them off from Courtray ; but the 
cousin of the King, Robert d'Artois, was indignant at this prudent 
counsel, and asked him if he was afraid of the Flemings, or whether 
he had an understanding with them. The Constable, son-in-law of 
the Count of Flanders, answered haughtily — " Sir, if you come where- 
I shall go, you will be well in front," and then rushed forward blindly 
at the head of his cavalry. Each one wished to follow him, those 
behind pressing on those before. On approaching the Flemish army 
they found a ditch five fathoms deep, into which they fell huddled 
together, and pierced through by the stakes of the enemy. In that 
spot was interred the flower of the chivalry of France — Artois r 
Chatillon, Nesle, Aumale, Dammartin, Dreux, Tancarville, and a 
crowd of others. The Flemings had only the trouble of killing them. 
— smashing in the heads of the conquered with iron mallets. This 
defeat weakened the feudal power in France, and strengthened royalty. 
Philip resolved to avenge in person the affronts on his nobility at 
Courtray. He entered Flanders at the head of a powerful army, and 
victories of the occupied Tournay. His fleet, united with a Genoese 
zStoee*and at squadron, overcame the Flemings at Zeriksee, and his 
Treaty ofpe^e, knights achieved a brilliant victory at Mons-en-Puelle r 

where six thousand of the bourgeois of Flanders were 
left upon the field of battle. But when he believed that these people 


were subdued, lie saw with surprise a new Flemish army, sixteen 
thousand strong, appear under the walls of Lille, which he was be- 
sieging. These were the brave bourgeois of Ghent, of Bruges, of 
Ypres, and of other towns in Flanders, who had bound themselves by an 
oath never to see their hearths again until they had obtained an honour- 
able peace or victory. " Better," said they, " to die in battle than live 
in servitude." Defied in his camp by this formidable army, the King 
listened to the prudent counsel and advice of his generals. He signed 
a treaty by which the Flemings gave up to him French Flanders, as 
far as the Lys, with the towns of Lille and Douai. 

__,.,. t „ , ~ T ,, n _, Reunion of Lille 

Philip set at liberty the new Count of slanders, Robert and Douai with 

. France. 

de Bethune, son of Guy de Dampierre, and recognized 
the independence of the Flemings. 

The pride of the King had been already deeply wounded by the 
hauerhty Boniface VIII., who had shown that he was his a , . . . 

o J ' Struggle between 

rival in ambition, violence, and cupidity. Founding his andPiSiiJSe 
power partly on his wealth, he had, at the expiration of Fair " 
the thirteenth century, again established the Centenary Jubilee, pro- 
mising entire remission of sins to every one who visited, during thirty 
consecutive days, all the churches of Borne. An enormous multitude 
of pilgrims hurried to place their rich offerings at the feet of the 
Pontiff. Boniface then extended his hand over all the sceptres: he 
wished to sell Sicily to Charles II., King of Naples ; he called to 
justice Albert of Austria for the murder of Adolph of Nassau ; pro- 
tected the children of La Cerda in Castile ; claimed to interpose 
between England and Scotland, issued a bull against the King of 
Hungary, and supported the Bishop of Pamiers, his legate, against 
the implacable vengeance of Philip the Fair, whom that prelate had 

Philip had already, on his own authority, levied tithes upon the 
clergy, and often abused the royal right ; # irritated by the preten- 
sions of the Pope and the reproaches of the bishop, he caused those 
of his men of law who were most devoted to his will to obtain an 

* This royal right was one of the causes of frequent quarrels, which took place at 
different epochs "between the court of France and that of Rome. It was the right 
bestowed on the King by the Gallican Church to receive the revenues of the bishoprics 
and abbeys during the vacancy of the sees. 


accusation against the latter — and in the number of these it is necessary 
to cite Pierre-- Flotte, his chancellor ; Enguerrand de Marigny, his 
confidant ; Guillaume de Plaisian and Guillaume de Nogaret. These 
men, always skilful in finding guilty those whom the King wished 
to strike, soon discovered charges against the Bishop of Panders 
sufficient to give a motive for his arrest. Philip ordered it for 
the crime of lese-majeste, or high treason against the King, and de- 
manded his degradation from the Archbishop of JSTarbonne, his metro- 
politan. But Boniface, indignant that the archers of the King should 
lay hands on a bishop, revoked the judgment, and warned the King 
of his wrong doings in the bull Amculta,jili (Listen, my son), 
Bull Auscuita "where these words may be read : — " Do you think, then, 
■^ O my son, that you have not a superior, and that you 

must not submit yourself to the supreme hierarchy ? We cannot 
conceal from you that you disquiet us, that you oppress your subjects, 
both those in the churches and ecclesiastical persons generally, the 
peers, counts, and barons, also the universities, and that you scan- 
dalize the multitude. . . . We have warned you, and far from 
correcting your errors, we see that your hate has only increased," 
&c. Philip, excited to fury, supported by the University of Paris, 
caused the Pope's bull to be burned, and convoked the first States- 
General where the deputies of the common people # had been sum- 

* For several centuries the great assemblies of all the freemen, the mals, had ceased. 
Already, at the end of the Merovingian dynasty, the Champs de Mars were almost out of 
use. Pepin, carried to the throne by a Germanic movement, reinstated with vigour the 
ancient customs, and the nation was often convoked, no longer at the Champs de Mars, on 
account of the severity of the weather, hut at the Champs de Mai. Although these 
assemblies still bore the name of placites generaux of the Franks, the nobles alone 
participated in the business. Under Charlemagne these assemblies became regular, and 
were only composed of majors and minors (see the reign of Charlemagne) ; the people 
were only spectators. The successors of the great Emperor preserved this custom, and 
it existed until nearly the end of the Carlovingian dynasty, of synods, of plenary courts, 
and of parliaments held in the name of the people, where the people were never repre- 
sented. This was one of the assemblies which decreed the crown to Hugh Capet. 
Under the third race the assemblies continued to be composed of barons and feudal 
prelates. Philip the Fair was the first of the Capets who recognized the right of 
suffrage belonging to the Third Estate ; still, this right, even as late as the fifteenth 
century, only belonged to walled towns, or bonnes villes. Otherwise there was nothing 
fixed, either concerning the forms of the convocations, or upon the mode of the elections, 
not only for the Third Estate, but also for the two other orders ; and this uncertainty 
continued almost till 1788. No law, no ordinance, had regulated these forms. For a 

1270-1328] DEATH OF BONIFACE VIII. 217 

moned alongside the barons and bishops. The majors, aldermen, 
jurats, consuls of the bonnes villes, hurried to Paris, and took their 
places in Notre Dame, where, on the 10th of April, 1302, the first 
sitting was opened. The King assisted in person, and, Firat stat 
after having made known to the assembly the pontifical {hree r ord°ers the 
bulls, a letter of remonstrance addressed to the court 1302, 
of Rome was obtained from each order. In it, the nobility, the 
clergy, and the Third Estate proclaimed the complete independence 
of the crown. Boniface avenged himself by excommunicating the 
King ; and the two rivals prepared themselves for an obstinate 
struggle by reconciling themselves with their enemies, and sacrificing 
every other interest to that of their hate. The Pope allied himself 
with Albert of Austria, and Philip restored Guienne in fief to 
Edward. Strengthened by the support of the States- General, which 
he convoked for a second time at the Louvre, Philip wished to strike 
a great blow. His representative, William de Nogaret, 
betook himself to ,Anagni, where the Pope resided, and ^Jf®* by 
made himself master of his person ; Sciarra Colonna, Hls death > 1303 - 
a Roman gentleman who accompanied Nogaret, struck the old man 
with his iron gauntlet. However, Boniface astonished his enemies 
by his courage. " Behold my neck — behold my head ! " said he to 
them ; " betrayed like Jesus Christ, and ready to die, at least I will 
die Pope ! " Ereed by the people of Anagni, he expired at Rome, 
a month afterwards, of a fever caused by the shock, and by anger, 
at the age of eighty- six years. 

Arbiter of the election, in consequence of his influence with the 
Erench cardinals, after the death of Benedict XL, in 1305, Philip 
promised to the Cardinal Bertrand de Goth, his enemy in old times, 
to cause him to be elected Pope if he engaged to hand over to him 
for five years tithes on the members of the clergy, to render to Philip 
an important service, which he would claim and name at the proper 
time, and, lastly, to stain the memory of Boniface VIII. This 
bargain, which the people called the Diabolical Bargain, was, it is 
said, concluded in a forest of Saintonge, near Saint Jean d'Angeley. 
Bertrand de Goth accepted the terms, consented to all, placed himself 

profound research into this subject the reader is referred to the Hisloire des Etats 
gZneraux de France, by M. E. Rathery. 


■under the discretion of the King in the county Yenaissin, where he 
was the first to establish the residence of the Holy See, # and be- 
Eiection of Pope came Pope under the name of Clement V. He did 
not leave France before he had kept all his promises. 
The service which Philip had exacted without naming it before- 
hand was the suppression of the Order of the Tern- 
Destruction of 
the Order of the plars. Their power wounded the pride of the monarchy 

Templars, 1309. ... ... 

while their immense wealth tempted his cupidity. Be- 
fore they had any suspicion of his design, he caused all those in his 
kingdom to be seized and thrown into dungeons. Then commenced 
a frightful prosecution against them, where torture furnished the 
evidence, and where the men of law won over by Philip filled the 
places of judges. The King confiscated the property of his victims,, 
while, at the same time, he stained their characters with horrible 
imputations without legal proofs. The Templars perished by the 
sword, by hunger, and by fire, retracting in the face of execution 
the confessions which torture had torn from them. Jacques Molay^ 
their Grand Master, rendered himself illustrious by his courage ; he 
protested his innocence in the middle of the flames, and it is said 
that he summoned both the monarch and the Pontiff to appear before 
Cxod during the year. 

Philip was then the most powerful king in Europe. He invited 
all the sovereigns to follow his example ; Edward II., King of Eng- 
land, and Charles II., King of Naples, acceded to his wishes, and 
seized upon the Templars in their states : fifteen thousand families 
were broken up by this terrible measure. 

Philip IV., dishonoured among the people by the surname of the 
Philip iv alters ^ a ^ se Coiner, continued his hateful and vexatious acts ; he 
the coinage. levied enormous taxes, and debased the coinage, and,, 

* At first this was at Carpentras, the capital of the county Venaissin, gained by 
Gregory X., and at which Clement V. established himself in 1308. Avignon did not 
form a part of this county — indeed did not belong, at this period, to the Holy See. 
This town, where the Popes had already resided for many years, was sold, in 1348, by 
Clement VI., to the Countess of Provence, Jeanne de Naples, and her successors re- 
mained there till 1377. Notwithstanding their return to Rome, and without excluding 
some temporary occupations, particularly under Louis XIV., the county Venaissin never 
ceased to belong to the Holy See until the legislative assembly, in 1791, declared its 
union, together with that of Avignon, with France, thus forming the department of 


1270-1328] DEATH OF PHILIP IT. 219 

after the money was issued, he refused to receive it again thus 
altered by himself. In one day he caused all the Jews in his kingdom 
to be imprisoned, and despoiled them of their wealth. He was the 
most absolute despot who had reigned in France ; yet he was the 
first of his race who granted a representative privilege to the com- 
munes. He showed a sort of favour to the bourgeois, consulting 
their deputies more freely than those of the nobility. 

His policy. 

He knew that men elevated from a low degree, gratified 
with their prominent position, would offer little resistance ; and it was 
from among obscure men that he selected his favourites and 
ministers, of whom the most celebrated was Enguerrand de Marigny. 
He wanted support in order to sustain him in his perfidious and 
cruel measures, and, in summoning the bourgeois to the councils 
of the kingdom, he felt strong enough to fear nothing from a liberty 
which was only so in name ; torture was used profusely, and the 
whole nation was ruled by terror. Towards the close of his days he 
exercised severities upon his own family : the wives of his three sons 
were accused, at the same time, of adultery ; he threw them into 
prison, and caused those whom he suspected to be their lovers to be 
flayed alive. He expired shortly afterwards, recom- 

J . . . His death, 1314. 

mending to his son piety, clemency, and justice. 

Clement V., his accomplice, died shortly afterwards; while Henry YIL 

had expired in the preceding year. 

Under Philip the Fair the domain of the crown was increased by 
La Marche and Angoumois, which he confiscated; by 
Lyonnais, which he detached from the empire ; and a part the crown under 
of French Flanders. He had married Jeanne, heiress of 
the kingdom of Navarre, of the county of Champagne, and of Brie. 
The results of that union were favourable to France. 

The reign of Philip is one of the most gloomy in the history of 
France. At this period — from towards the end of the thirteenth century 
till the commencement of the fourteenth — the French lived beneath 
a yoke of iron ; and, notwithstanding the heroism displayed two hun- 
dred years before in the communal revolutions, they were in general 
strangers to the spirit of independence which agitated most of the 
countries around them, and to which Italy and Flanders owed their 
arts and their industry. Robert Bruce in Scotland, and William Tell 


in Switzerland, had restored freedom to their countries. Still, the 
great events which then shook some states were caused much less 
by the spirit of individual liberty than by the love of national 
independence ; and the greater part of the people of Europe, after 
constituting themselves nations, fell again under a yoke as hard as 
that which they had shaken off. 


Philip left three sons and one daughter. Louis X., the eldest, sur- 
named Le HutinJ* in consequence of his vicious tastes, 

Accession of x 

Louis x., 1314. was twenty-five years of age at the death of his father, 
and had already worn for fifteen years the crown of Navarre, which he 
had inherited from his mother, together with that of Champagne and 
Brie. His two brothers, Philip and Charles, like himself, were given 
up to vicious habits, and their sister Isabella, wife of Edward II., only 
distinguished herself by crime and infamy. 

Philip the Fair, as a matter of policy, had entrusted the great 
offices of the state to obscure men, who owed all they possessed to 
his favour. His family censured this system, and one of the first acts 
of Louis was to arrest and bring to judgment the Chancellor Pierre 
Latelli, who was pardoned, and Enguerrand de Marigny, prime 
minister of the late King. Charles de Valois, uncle of the monarch, 
begged that sentence of death should be passed on 

Trial and execu- . . . 

tion of Marigny, JMarigny, m consequence ol a personal injury. Inis 


minister, who was held responsible for all the tyrannical 
acts of his master, and accused of sorcery, was condemned, and hanged 
at the gibbet of Montfaucon. Marguerite of Burgundy, wife of the 
King, was shut up in the Chateau Gaillard des Andelys, on a charge 
of adultery. Louis caused her to be strangled, and afterwards mar- 
ried Clemence of Hungary. He always lived surrounded by prodigal 
young noblemen, whom he made the companions of his pleasures ; 
and the nobility, taking advantage of their influence, obtained from 
him- the right to be restored in possession of their ancient pri- 
feeb - entof v^ge 8 - He thus weakened the mainspring of the 
e roya power. monarc i 1 y j R0 anxiously cared for by his father. The 

f. * An old French word, long out of use. 

1270-1328] DEATH OF LOUIS X. PHILIP V. 221 

judicial combat was re-established ; confederations of the nobles 
were formed in most parts of the provinces, and each obtained a 
charter, and the nobles of the north recovered their royal rights. 
But the King, pressed by want of money, issued also some de- 
crees favourable to the national liberties, offering to the peasants 
of the crown, and to the serfs held in mortmain, to sell them 
their liberty ; but he gave no guarantee of the rights that he recog- 
nized, and such was the misery of the people, and such the distrust 
that the King inspired, that his decree was only received by a small 
number, and brought little money into the treasury. Great disorder 
in the financial department, and the horrors of a famine, accompanied 
by astounding scandals, marked the rapid course of this reign. Then 
might be seen the clergy themselves conducting in the provinces pro- 
cessions of penitents, entirely naked, for the purpose of obtaining 
from Heaven favourable weather for the harvests. Louis X. died in 
1316, in consequence of an imprudence, leaving his wife, Death of L j 
Clemence of Hungary, enceinte. By his first marriage x *' 1316, 
he had only one daughter, called Jeanne, then six years old. 


Philip V., called the Long, brother of Louis le Hutin, took posses- 
sion of the regency, to the prejudice of the Queen, who Accession f 
gave birth to a son, named John. This child only sur- Phlhp v > 1316 - 
vived a few days, and Philip, uncle of the Princess Jeanne, already in 
possession of the royal authority, caused it to be decreed by the States- 
General, and by the Universitv of France, that the law 

- . . The Salic law. 

of succession established among the ancient Franks for 
the Salic land,* should be applied to the crown of France, and that, 
in virtue of that law, women should never inherit the throne. This 
was the first application of that celebrated law. 

The new King felt the want of being supported by the legists, and 
showed towards them an altogether special favour. He bestowed 
attention on the administration of the interior, appointed the captains- 
general of the provinces and the captains of the towns, and organized 
the militia of the communes, decreeing, however, that the arms 

* See page 27. 

22 DEATH OF PHILIP V. [Book II. Chap. I. 

should remain deposited in the houses of the captains till there 

was a necessity for their use. Save a rapid and useless expedition 

into Italy, he had no interior or exterior war to sustain, and yet blood 

streamed in France under his reign. A new religious fury seized the 

shepherds and inhabitants of the plains, designated under the name of 

Pastoureaux, They met together in crowds, with the 

intention of passing into the Holy Land and setting 

free the Holy Sepulchre. From mendicants, however, they turned 

into plunderers, and it became necessary to punish them. They 

offered in a holocaust to God all the Jews that they met, and, after 

having committed a multitude of highway robberies and murders, 

they were nearly all massacred and destroyed by the Seneschal of 

Carcassonne. A horrible proscription included those 

the lepers and of attacked with leprosy, during the same reign ; they were 

the Jews. 

accused of having poisoned the wells of drinking water 
throughout the kingdom. Philip V. and Pope John XXII. both 
believed in magic ; they gave credence to the crime of the lepers 
without any proof except that forced out by horrible tortures. From 
that time all those who were attacked by skin disease were arrested 
and accused of sorcery ; and as such, they were forbidden to have 
recourse to the tribunals of the kingdom. The Jews, suspected of 
being in complicity with them, perished in the same torments. In 
the midst of these atrocious executions the King fell ill of a wasting 
disease. The relics from the Sainte-Chapelle, which they brought 
Death of Phiii nmi ) an0 ^ which he kissed devoutly, could not revive 
v., 1322. him. : he died at Longchamp, in 1322. 

Most of the ordinances of Philip V. are remarkable for the con- 
tinual confusion of the personal interests of the King with those of 
the kingdom, and for the desire to regulate the use of the sovereign 
will without at the same time recognizing any limit to it. By a 
decree of 1318, the King ordered himself to attend mass every 
morning, and regulated the manner of making his bed ; by another 
he denied to himself the right to transfer the domains of the crown, 
Letters of anc ^ rev °ked all the gifts of his father. This prince gave 

nobihty. letters of nobility to persons of mean origin. At last 

these letters were sold for money, and this innovation, in renewing 
the aristocracy, altered its character and weakened it. Amongst the 

1270-1328] ACCESSION OP CHAELES IV. 223 

numerous edicts of Philip V., those which organized the -■/.*.. e 

* ° Useful edicts of 

militia, the chambers of exchequer, the administration of this P riuce - 
the woods and forests, and the office of the collectors, indicate the 
progress of order, and the substitution of the despotism supported by- 
law for the despotism sustained by the sword. 


Philip V. had one son and four daughters when he asked the States 
to exclude, in perpetuity, daughters from the throne. A few months 
afterwards he lost his son, and was the first person wounded in his 
paternal love by the law which he had caused to be passed. His 
brother Charles inherited the sceptre ; he was the third , 

x Accession of 

son of Philip the Fair, and was then twenty-eight years Charles iv.,1322. 
of age. He issued ordinances for the purpose of ameliorating the lot 
of the lepers and Jews ; there are few things besides in his reign 
that history has handed down to us. The foundation of 
the Floral Games, at Toulouse, dates from this epoch. 

While the civil war desolated England, Charles, at the instigation 
of his sister Isabella, wife of Edward II., usurped the rights of that 
prince in Aquitaine. The English monarch sent his son to him, in 
order to pay him homage ; Charles held back the young prince at his 
court, as a hostage, and furnished soldiers and money to his sister in 
order to fight against her husband. That unfortunate king was made 
prisoner, and shortly afterwards a frightful death put an end to his 
days. Charles IV. fell ill at this period, and decreed that if the 
queen, then enceinte, should give birth to a son, his _.. fC 
cousin-german, Philip of Yalois, should be regent of the IV; 
kingdom ; if she gave birth to a daughter, his intention was that the 
twelve peers and the high barons of France should sit in parliament 
and decree the crown to whomsoever it belonged by law. He died on 
Christmas day, in the same year, carried oft', like his brothers, in the 
vigour of his life. Thus appeared to be accomplished 

& . . 7 . His death, 1327. 

the judgment of God, with which the house of Philip the 

Fair had for a long time been threatened, in the eyes of the people, in 

punishment for its crimes. 

We have seen the successive enlargements of the royal domain 


since tlie time of Philip I. It had acquired during these two centuries 
by conquest, by confiscation, or by inheritance, Berry, 

Recapitulation of _ . . 

the acquisitions or the viscounty of Bourges, Normandy, Maine, Anjou, 

made by the . __ 

royal domain, Poitou, Valois, Vermandois, the counties of Auvergne 

from the end of # 

the eleventh cen- and Boulogne, a part of Champagne and Brie, Lyonnais, 
fourteenth cen- Angoumois, Marche, nearly the whole of Languedoc, and 
lastly, the kingdom of Navarre, which, belonging in her 
own right to Queen Jeanne, mother of the last three Capetians, 
Charles IV.* united with the crown. But the custom among the kings 
of giving apanages or estates to the princes of their house detached 
afresh from the domain a great part of the reunited territories, and 
created powerful feudal princely houses, of which the chiefs often 
made themselves formidable to the monarchs. Among these great 
Princely feudal houses of the Capetian race, the most formidable were 
houses. — jfo e ]2 0lise f Burgundy, which traced back to King 

Robert ; the house of Dreucc, issue of a son of Louis the Big, and 
which added by a marriage the duchy of Brittany to the county of 
that name ; the house of Anjou, issue of Charles, brother of Saint 
Louis, which was united, in 1290, with that of Valois ; the house 
of Bourdon, descending from Robert, Count of Clermont, sixth son 
of Saint Louis ; and the house of Alengon, which traced back to 
Philip III., and possessed the duchy of Alencon and Perche. 

Besides these great princely houses of Capetian stock, which 
owed their grandeur and their origin to their apanages, there were 
other feud l many others which held considerable rank in France,, 
houses. an( j £ w ] 1 i c } 1 the possessions^ were transmissible to 

women ; while the apanages were all masculine fiefs. The most 
powerful of these houses were those of Flanders, Penthievre, 
Chatillon, Montmorency, Brienne, Coucy, Vendome, Auvergne, Foix., 
and Armagnac. The vast possessions of the two last houses were in 
the country of the Langue d'Oc. The Counts of Foix were also 
masters of Beam, and those of Armagnac possessed Fezensac, 
Rouergue, and other large seigniories. 

Many foreign princes, besides, had possessions in France at the 
accession of the Valois. The King of England was lord 

Foreign princes . . . n 

landowners in of Ponthieu, of Aunis, of Saintonge, and 01 the duchv of 

France. ' ' & J 

Aquitaine; the King of Navarre was Count of Evreux, 


and possessor of many other towns in Normandy ; the King of Majorca 
was proprietor of the seigniory of Montpellier ; the Duke of Lorraine, 
vassal of the German empire, paid homage to the King of France for 
many fiefs that he held in Champagne ; and, lastly, the Pope possessed 
the comity Yenaissin, detached from Provence. 





With the new reign commenced a long series of disastrous wars be- 
tween England and France. When the calamities to which they gave 
birth had transformed, in the eyes of the two nations, the particular 
rivalries of their kings to national rivalries, the French and the 
English persuaded themselves that they were natural enemies, and this 
prejudice existed, to the misfortune of humanity, for five centuries. 
Nevertheless, in the fourteenth century, the war only broke out between 
them, as in the preceding centuries, in the interest of their sovereigns^ 
who both raised rival pretensions to the succession of Charles IV. 

Jeanne d'Evreux, widow of that monarch, gave birth to a daughter,, 
and, according to the will of the late King, the Parliament was sum- 
moned to decide between the candidates for the throne. The two 
principal were the Regent, Philip of Vaiois,*' grandson of Philip 
the Bold, and cousin-german of the last three kings of France ; and 
Edward III., King of England, son of Isabella, sister of 

Accession of the . . 

Vaiois. Philip those princes. The interpretation already twice given 

VI;, 1328. 

during twelve years to the Salic law then received a 
third and last sanction. Women were declared to be deprived of all 
right to the crown, which the Parliament solemnly awarded to Philip 
of Yalois. This decision was from that time recognized as a funda- 
The s lie la • cental law of the state. Ideas of legality began to make 
fundamenfafiaw ^ neir wa 7 ^' ^ ne spirit of the nation, and law was ap- 
of the state. pealed to, supported by force ; however, no constitution 

up to that time had fixed the rights of heirdom to the crown, and 
Philip, in his office of Regent, had exercised so great an influence 
on the jurisconsults, creatures of the kings and flatterers of power, that 

* Vaiois, a small tract of country in the He de France, tad been given in apanage, 
with the title of count, to Charles, youngest son of Philip the Bold, and father of 
Philip of Yalois. 

1327-1350] philip vi. 227 

Edward, in appealing himself to the law, would not recognize the 
authority of the men charged with its interpretation, and appealed from 
their decision to his sword. But many years rolled away before he 
declared war against Philip of Yalois ; and in the meantime he still 
paid him homage for the fiefs which he possessed in France. 

Philip, Count d'Evreux,* another grandson of Philip the Bold, 
and husband of Jeanne, daughter of Louis X., the eldest of the last 
three Capetians, was the third candidate for the crown. He received 
from the monarch the kingdom of Navarre, to which his wife had 
legitimate rights through her grandfather^ and which was also 
detached from the crown of Prance. But the royal The crown of 
domain, by the accession of Philip of Yalois, gained the *} ^g^mo? 
county of Yalois, Maine, and Anjou ; these latter yS" Maine*" 1 ' 
provinces had been ceded by the house of Anjou to the 
house of Yalois, under Philip IY= 

Philip YI. was thirty-six years old when, in 1328, he was recog- 
nized as king. This prince was brave, violent, vindictive, and cruel ; 
skilful in all muscular exercises, he was ignorant of the first notions 
of the military art and of financial administration. With him the art 
of reigning was to inspire terror by executions, and admiration by 
pomp and magnificence. The first acts of his reign were the alteration 
of the coinage and the judgment of death on Pierre Henry, treasurer of 
finances under the previous reign. Philip YI. accused 

Execution of the 

him of embezzlement : Remy was executed, and the treasurer, Pierre 

J ' Remy, 1327. 

King took possession of his rich spoils. Soon after he 
marched into Flanders to the assistance of the ferocious Count Louis, 
who was always at war with his subjects ; and the bloody Battl f Cagcel 
battle of Cassel, where thirteen thousand Flemings were 1328- 
slaughtered, restored to the Count his states. 

The issue of a scandalous lawsuit caused the first germs of discord 
to spring up between Edward III. and Philip YI. „ ,. . 

* ° x x Preliminaries 

Robert d'Artois, brother-in-law of Philip, had vainlv t f the " undred 

' ■ r ' J Years War 

bribed witnesses, in order to obtain from the Kins: and bet ^ en England 

' o and France, 

Parliament that the county of Artois, adjudicated to his 1331-1338 - 

* The county of Evreux had been given in apanage, in 1307, by Philip the Fair to 
his brother Louis, younger son of Philip the Bold, 
t See page 224, 

Q 2 

228 WAR WITH ENGLAND. [Book II. Chap. II. 

aunt Mahaut, should be given up to him. Blinded by his fury, after 
having uselessly employed assassins, he had recourse to demons ; and 
the King, filled with the superstitious beliefs of that age, learned with 
fright that he, as well as his son, were envonlte's (bewitched) by his 
brother-in-law. They then believed that if a little image of wax, 
representing any person, were baptized by a priest, and afterwards 
pierced with a needle in the place of the heart, the person whom the 
figure represented would suffer from the wound, and soon die. The 
demons were invoked in this magical operation, which was called 
" making a voult (a vow) against any one," or " Venvoulter." The 
King was no more exempt than his people from the fear which this 
superstitious belief inspired. Robert, pursued by his vengeance, 
found an asylum with Edward,, and never desisted from urging 
him on to war. 

That monarch was then recognized on the continent by most 
powerful allies. The cruelties of the Count of Flanders had again 
caused a revolt among his subjects. Ghent, the richest and most 
populous town of the Low Countries, had revolted, and placed itself 
under obedience to the celebrated brewer, Jacquemart Artevelt, who 
was the soul of a new league against Count Louis and France. 
Having need of the support of England, Artevelt, in the name of the 
Flemings, recognized Edward as the King of France. About the same 
time, the Emperor Louis IV. of Bavaria, irritated against Philip, who 
had refused homage for the fiefs which he held from the empire upon 
the left bank of the Rhine, declared solemnly at the Diet of Coblentz, 
held in 1336, that Philip was entirely deprived of all protection from 
the empire until he had restored his maternal inheritance to Edward. 
He also named the latter monarch his representative for all the lands 
on the left bank of the Rhine held by the imperial crown. 

However, the chivalrous King John of Bohemia allied himself with 
Philip, and, loaded with wealth, seduced the German princes and the 
Emperor himself, and held neutrality during the terrible struggle about 
to take place between the Kings of France and England. He strove 
also to bring about an excommunication of the Flemings by Pope 
Benedict XII., but Edward submitted himself to the w r ill of the Pon- 
tiff, threatening him with the fate of Boniface VIII. 

Edward then took the title of King of France ; he entered Flanders 

1327-1350] CIVII WAR IN BRITTANY. 229 

at tlie head of an army, and confirmed all the privileges of the Flem- 
ings. Philip sustained against him, with superior forces, First hostilities, 


a defensive warfare, refusing to engage in any general 

action. The English, nevertheless, took the French fleet by surprise, 

shut up in a narrow creek near Ecluse. They gave them Battle of Ecluse 

battle, and obtained a complete victory. France lost 34 °" 

ninety vessels and more than thirty thousand men. This battle was 

followed by an armistice between the two nations. 

A bloody and fatal war to France broke out in the following year 
in Brittany. John III., duke of that province, had died 


-without issue, and two rivals disputed his inheritance, of the civil war in 

' r Brittany, 1341. 

The one was Charles de Blois, husband of one of his 
nieces and nephew of the King of France ; the other, Montfort, 
conqueror of the Albigenses : he was the younger brother of the last 
duke, andmad been disinherited by him. The Court of Peers, devoted 
to the King, adjudged the duchy to Charles de Blois, his nephew. 
Montfort immediately made himself master of the strongest places, and 
rendered homage for Brittany to King Edward, whose assistance he 
implored. This war, in which Charles de Blois was supported by 
France and Montfort by England, lasted for twenty- four years without 
interruption, and presented, in the midst of heroic actions, a long 
course of treacheries and atrocious robberies. Amongst the most 
famous combats of this terrible struggle history quotes, during a truce 
with England, the Combat of the Thirty, a bloody duel 
between thirty Bretons under Jean de Beaumanoir, and Thirt y- 
thirty English commanded by Bemborough. Victory remained with 
the Bretons ; but it had no influence upon the issue of the war. Two 
women — two heroines — vied in courage at this time with the most 
celebrated warriors. They were Jeanne la Boiteuse, wife of Charles 
de Blois, and Jeanne la Flamande, wife of Montfort. They were the 
soul of their parties ; and the defence of Hennebon rendered Jeanne 
de Montfort immortal. 

Charles de Blois, nephew of Philip VI., only inherited on the female 
side the duchy of Brittany. The King' sustained his 

J J ° Perfidy and 

cause for a family interest, and he had recourse to ^ T ue . lt; y of p *J m P 

J ' VI. in regard to 

perfidy and cruelty. In a tournament, to which the aevSedto n ° bles 
Breton knights had repaired without mistrust, he caused Montfort - 


twelve of the party of Montfort to be arrested. Oliver Clisson, one 
of the most powerful nobles of Brittany, was of this number. All 
were beheaded, without legitimate cause and without a trial. The 
widow of Clisson immediately took by surprise a fortress belonging to 
the King, and caused the whole of the garrison to be slaughtered before 
her eyes. The parents and friends of the knights put to death by 
treachery all passed over to the side of Montfort, and called their 
enemies to their assistance. One of them, Geofiroy d'Harconrt, being 
threatened with the same fate by Philip, obtained from King Edward 
a vow to avenge them ; and in the year following, an English army, 
commanded by Edward, and conducted by this same Harcourt, dis- 
embarked in Normandy, and ravaged the kingdom without obstacle, 
until they arrived beneath the walls of Paris. 

Philip, appealing to all the nobility of France, assembled round him 
a formidable army, before which Edward retired. The retreat of the 
English was difficult ; very inferior in numbers to the French, they 
passed over the Somme at the ford of Blanquetaque, and, compelled 
to fight, they fortified themselves upon a hill which commanded 
the village of Cress?/, and there placed cannons, which 

First employ- & . . 

ment of artillery were then for the first time used in European armies. 

in warfare, 1346. 

The French had come by forced marches. If they had 
taken some repose, by prudent arrangements victory would have been 
assured to them ; but the impatient Philip, who had scarcely arrived 

in sight of the enemy, ordered an attack to be made by 

Battle of Cressy, & Ji J 

1346 - his Genoese archers, who formed the advanced guard. 

They endeavoured vainly to make him observe that they were exhausted 
by hunger and fatigue, and that the rain had rendered their bows 
useless. He renewed the order ; they advanced with bravery, and 
were repulsed. Philip, furious, caused them to be massacred, and his 
brother, the Duke d'Alencon, trod them down under the hoofs of his 
cavalry. This ferocious act caused the loss of the army ; the English 
took advantage of the confusion in the front ranks, and rushed upon 
them, and the advanced guard was thrown back upon the general 
body of the army, where a frightful carnage took place. Thirty 
thousand Frenchmen lost their lives, and amongst them eleven 
princes, twelve hundred nobles or knights, and the chivalrous King of 
Bohemia, allied with Philip, who, although blind, caused himself to 


he led into the midst of the affray, in order to perish valiantly. The 
elite of the nobility was cut down in that bloody day's work. The 
celebrated Black Prince, fifteen years of age, commanded the English, 
under King Edward, his father, and powerfully contributed to the 
victory. Philip, twice wounded, and carried away by his men far 
from the field of battle, presented himself before the castle of Braye, 
only accompanied by five knights. " Open" said he, as he knocked at 
the gate, " it is the fortune of France !"*'+■ 

The taking of Calais was one of the most fatal results of the defeat 
of Oressy. The inhabitants of that town, reduced by 

Siege and 

famine to capitulate after eleven months of courageous capture of 

r p ° Calais by the 

defence, were summoned to deliver up to Edward six King of England, 

9 r m 1346. 

persons from among them upon whom that King could 
satiate his vengeance. At this news the people broke out into wailing. 
" But then," says Froissart, " there uprose the richest bourgeois of 
the town, whom they called Sieur Eustache de Saint-Pierre, and he 
spoke thus before them : — ' Great pity and great misfortune would it 
be to see such a people as this perish. I have so great a hope of 
having grace and pardon from our Lord if I die to save this people, 
that I wish to be the first, and I will place myself willingly at the 
mercy of the King of England.' When Eustache had said these 
words the crowd was moved, men and women throwing them- 
selves down at his feet, weeping. Then another bourgeois, who had 
two daughters, and was called Jean d'Aire, arose, and said that he 
would accompany his friend Sieur Eustache. "t This noble example 
Was followed by two brothers named Wissant ; lastly, two other bour- 
geois, whose names history has not preserved, offered to share their 
fate. The whole six, with ropes round their necks, and bearing the 
keys of the town, were conducted by the governor, John de Vienne, 
to the English camp. Edward, on seeing them, called for the 
•executioner ; but the Queen and his son interceded for them and 
obtained their pardon. All the inhabitants of Calais were driven from 

* Some authors have denied, but without sufficient proof, the authenticity of this 
speech, and also that of most of the historical sayings of our kings and great men. 
These are, in our view, efforts to he regretted, as they tend systematically to despoil 
history of its poetry and its grandeur, in order to profit a doubtful and most frequently 
sterile science. 

f Froissart. 


the town, which became an Englisli colony ; and for two hundred 

years it was an entrance-place into France for foreign armies. The 

capture of this important place was followed by a truce 

Truce, 1346-1385. r r r J 

between the two monarchs. 
The disasters of the war took away nothing from the pride or 
the magnificence of Philip of Valois. When his treasury was empty 
he altered the coinage, or else united together the pre- 

New taxes. . . 

lates, barons, and certain deputies of the towns, upon 
whom he imposed his will. Through them he caused new taxes to be 
sanctioned, and it was thus that he decreed the tax of the twentieth 
denier on the price of all merchandise sold, and thus that he estab- 
lished La Gabelle* transferring to the fiscal power the monopoly of 

salt throughout all the kingdom. The preamble of his 

Establishment of ° ° r 

LaGabeiie. edicts tended to show that they were issued for the 

welfare and in the interest of good people, and by the national will ,- 
however, the States- General were only on one single occasion legally 
convoked during this reign, and merely distinguished themselves by 
their servility. 

The frightful plague, known under the name of The Plague of 
Florence, spread its ravages throughout France during 

Plague, 1348. ' r to & ° 

the year 1348. It is estimated that the disease cut down 
about one- third of the inhabitants of the kingdom. The ignorant and 
ferocious populace accused the Jews of having poisoned the rivers 
and fountains, and those unfortunates were burnt and massacred by 
thousands. So many calamities served as food for superstition and 
fanaticism. Enthusiasts, of both sexes, believed, like the Fakirs of 
India, that their sufferings were agreeable to the divine power. They 
could then be seen in numerous bands, traversing, half- naked, the towns 
and the country, cutting their shoulders with blows from the lash, in 
order, as they said, to blot out the sins of the world ; they called 

themselves Flagellants. Their sect, persecuted and ex- 

Flagellants. J . 

terminated by the Church, had only a short existence. 
Philip VI. had rendered the power of the Inquisition formidable in 
France ; nevertheless, he authorized the appeals from abuse of the eccle- 
siastical tribunals to the Parliament, f 

* See Book II., Chapter III. 

J This appellation was given, from the time of Saint Louis, to the appeal authorized 

1327-1350] DEATH OP PHILIP VI. 233 

In 1350, already well advanced in years, he married the young 
Blanche de Navarre, sister of King Charles surnamed The Bad, and 
died in less than a month afterwards, at the age of Deathof Phil; 
fifty- eight years. He had bought the seigniory of Mont- SonofV?*" 
pellier, for a hundred and twenty thousand crowns, from MoSpSier and 
James II., last King of Majorca, and acquired from the withSnclf, 
Dauphin, Humbert II., the province of Dauphine, which 
was given in apanage to the eldest sons of the kings of France. 
From that time they bore the name of Dauphins,* and the frontiers of 
the kingdom were thus extended as far as the Alps. 

by the Gallican Church against certain ecclesiastical acts in the case of usurpation or 
excess of power, such as the publication of bulls, pastoral letters, and other despatches 
of the Court of Rome, without the approbation of the Government, and, in general, all 
violations of the liberties and customs of the Gallican Church. There were other cases 
of abuse, which only interested private individuals. In this second category must be 
ranged the acts which, in the exercise of religion, could compromise the reputation of 
the citizens, or disturb their consciences by an arbitrary persecution. The injuries pro- 
nounced publicly from the pulpit, the refusal, without grounds, to proceed to a burial, &c, 
belong to these cases of abuse. From Philip of Valois to the French Revolution, Parlia- 
ment always took up these questions ; at the present day they are submitted to the 
Council of State. 

* This surname had been given to the Counts of Vienne (in Dauphine') on account of 
the dolphin which they carried upon their helmets and on their armorial bearings. 





The disasters of the last war with the English, the prodigalities, 
the frauds, the exactions of King John, and the dishonest acts 
of his ministers, were the principal causes which, under his reign, 
rendered the States- General independent of the crown, and gave 
thern a new authority, which was almost absolute. This revo- 
lution was also partly due to the growing importance of the 
bourgeoisie, or of the Third Estate, in numbers and in 

Prosrrcss of th.6 

bourgeoisie, or wealth. Continual transactions with the Italians and 

Third Estate. . ■,-. n t •, • -i -n 

people of the East had rapidly developed in the French 
nobility habits of great luxury. In the fourteenth century, above 
all, expensive tastes made marked progress, and gave full career to 
new branches of industry, which added to the welfare of the bourgeois 
class. They, when they acquired wealth, acquired also the feeling of 
power, and exercised more courage and perseverance in appealing to 
and defending the laws of individual liberty and property. 

Until the reign of "King John the members of this class had not 
appeared to be animated with any national spirit ; they appeared to 
remain strangers to the political interests of the kingdom. As far as 
they were concerned, the country was restricted to the walled precincts 
of the city ; they abandoned to the great vassals and the King the 
•care of watching over the destinies of the state, and all their energy 
displayed itself at first, not against the government, which had often 
protected them, but against the tyrannical oppression of their respec- 
tive seigniors. However, when in its turn the royal authority crushed 
them under an intolerable yoke, they seized, in order to resist it, upon 
the moment when they saw it shaken by unheard-of misfortunes and 
incredible mistakes, and united together against it with the nobility 
and clergy. The States- General from that time took an imposing 

1350-1364] ACCESSION OF KING JOHN. 235 

aspect ; but the result of their energetic efforts was only transitory. 
Soon, the first two orders of the nation became frightened at the 
success obtained in the States against the authority of the prince ; 
they became indignant at the importance which the order of the Third 
Estate had suddenly acquired, and began to see that the interests of 
that order, which tended to social equality, were directly opposed to 
their own, whose existence depended upon privileges : they aban- 
doned it to itself. Hostile to the crown in other respects, they united 
with it against the Third Estate, and the disasters with which the 
bourgeoisie were burdened, in consequence of some ephemeral 
triumphs, were turned to the advantage of royal despotism. 

John was more than thirty years of age when, in 1350, he succeeded 
Philip de Yalois, his father. His education, although . 

r fe ' o Accession of 

it had been carefully conducted, had made him more King John, 1350. 
a valiant knight than a wise and experienced king. Impetuous 
in character, irresolute in mind, rash rather than brave, prodigal, 
obstinate, vindictive, and full of pride, perfectly instructed in the 
laws of chivalry, and ignorant of the duties of the throne, he was 
always ready to sacrifice to the prejudices of honour, as then under- 
stood, the rights of his subjects and the interests of the state. France 
was exhausted at the time of his accession ; nevertheless, he spared 
nothing at the fetes of his coronation. The expense was so pro- 
digious, and the empoverishment of the royal treasury so great, that 
the King, in the following year, found himself obliged to call together 
the States of the kingdom. 

The first acts of his reign were characterized by violence and 
despotism. He seized upon the person of the Count d'Eu, 
constable, who, a prisoner of the English and free upon despotism of 
his parole, had come to France to gather together his Execution of the 

_ , , - . „ , Count d'Eu. 

ransom. John accused mm ol treason, and caused his 
head to be cut off without trial. During the same year he issued 
eighteen ordinances concerning the alteration of the coinage, increas- 
ing and diminishing alternately the value of the gold mark, and 
confiscated to his own profit all the claims of the Jew and Lombard 
merchants established in 'the kingdom. He forbade his subjects 
to pay what they owed to them, under penalty of being compelled 
to pay a second time. These disastrous ordinances struck a blow 


at the heart of commerce and threatened to destroy it. Through 
tie Jews and Italians nearly all the commerce of France was nego- 
tiated : a great number left the country ; the others, in order to. 
compensate themselves for their risk, exacted enormous profits, which 
increased the general misery. The King felt no fear, after these 
iniquitous acts, in summoning together the States of his kingdom ; 
and such was still, at that period, the ignorance or submission of the 
deputies, that they did not raise a murmur. The monarch treated 
with those of each state in particular, obtained from each that which 
he wished, and then dismissed them.* 

These new resources were exhausted at the moment when the truce 
concluded between England and France had expired. 

Competition for . 

the throne of Edward reproached Kino* John with having 1 deprived 

France. . r ° ... 

him of the ransom of the Constable by assassinating him,, 
and swore to avenge himself for that crime. Another enemy, nearly 
as formidable, declared, about the same time, war against France - y 
this was Charles, King of Navarre and Count of Evreux. This prince,, 
as well as Edward, had, on the female side, rights to the throne, and 
he was, moreover, nearer by a degree, as he was son of a daughter of 
Lotus le Hutin. King John, of whom he was the son-in-law, had 
the imprudence to incur his enmity by not paying faithfully over the 
dower of his daughter, while he himself piled up his wealth, and 
appointed as Constable the Spaniard Charles de la Cerd r a, the personal 
enemy of the King of Navarre. That monarch, whose vices and 
cruelties had fixed upon him the surname of The JBad, took the 
Assassination f Constable by surprise at Aigle, in Normandy, and assas- 
Charies S de b ia sinated him. Then calling round him all his barons and 
Kni- a f Navarre n ^ s Norman nobles, he braved the fury of King John^ 
iaries the Bad. .^j^ powerless to reduce him by arms, summoned him 
to the throne. Charles of Navarre consented to appear there, re- 
ceived the pardon of the King, and became reconciled to him by the 
treaty of Yalogne. 

• War, however, broke out with England. The King issued new 
ordinances for the falsification of the coinage • the gold mark mounted 

* This first assembly, of which the roll was afterwards rendered void, was the only 
one under John where the deputies of the two great divisions of the kingdom, the 
countries of the Langue d'Oil and the Langue d'Oc, were represented. 

1850-1364] THE STATES-GENERAL, 1355. 237 

up frorn four livres to seventeen, and then fell back again to four 
livres. These odious proceedings only brought into the treasury 
insufficient resources. The King, in order to create new means, 
convoked the States- General of the Langue d'Oil to Paris in 1355. 

The States met together on the 2nd of December, in the Great 
Chamber of Parliament. The Archbishop of Rouen, 

-,-!-, , /-in -n t States-General of 

Pierre de la ±orest, Chancellor oi .trance, opened the the Langue crou, 


Assembly, and requested subsidies for the war. John de 
Craon, Archbishop of Reims, in the name of the clergy ; Gauthier de 
Brienne, Duke of Athens, in the name of the nobility ; Etienne Marcel, 
head magistrate of the merchants, in the name of the Third Estate, — 
requested permission to consult among themselves concerning the 
subsidies to be granted and the abuses to be reformed. Their first 
declaration announced that a revolution had taken place T 

* Important acts 

in their minds. They carried, that no rule should have of the states, 
the force of law until it had been approved by the three orders, and 
that any order which had refused its consent should not be bound by 
the vote of the other two. By this famous declaration, the Third 
Estate caused itself to be recognized as a political power, equal to that 
of the clergy and the nobility. The demands of the King were 
solemnly discussed ; and, before subscribing to them, the States 
enacted that the value of the silver mark should be stable, and remain 
fixed at four livres and twelve sous. They suppressed the law of 
taking possession, which gave to the purveyors of the King, to the 
princes, and to the great officers, the right of taking, without pay- 
ment, in their journeys, everything that they considered necessary for 
their convenience. They forbade all prosecution for the recovery of 
property seized from the Italian merchants, and abolished the monopo- 
lies established by people in government places. In return, they 
undertook to furnish thirty thousand soldiers and five millions of 
livres to make up the balance for a year ; but they wished that this 
money should remain in the hands of their receivers and be levied by 
them. They made it also necessary that they should assemble again 
on the 1st of March in the following year to receive the accounts of 
the treasurers ; then at the end of a year to renew the taxes, if there 
were necessity, and to provide for the expenses of the war. The King 
undertook to respect these conditions. 

238 NEW TAXES. [Book II. Chap. III. 

In this manner the nation appears to have regained its ancient 
periodical assemblies, and the monarchy was "brought to recognize the 
share of sovereign power between itself and the three orders of the 
States- General. But these latter, skilful in reforming abuses, and in 
gaining for themselves precious rights, showed in the assessment of 
taxes * a deplorable incapacity. Composed of men without experience, 
assembled from all parts of the kingdom, and unknown to one another ; 
only having obtained from the King three days in order to agree upon 
the means of filling the treasury, of reinsuring confidence, of organiz- 
ing the army, and of driving the enemy from the kingdom, they 
raised the tax of the gdbelle, or the tax upon salt, and 
established an aide of eight deniers in the livre upon 
the sale of all merchandise. 

The first of these taxes fell upon a commodity indispensable to all, 
and struck at the poorest and most numerous class ; the second, in 

* From the fall of the Roman Empire, among the Gauls, there no longer existed a 
general annual revenue, and the feudal taxes, exacted upon the domains of the crown, 
constituted the only revenues of the King of France, who, in this respect, was looked 
upon as a simple seignior. The military service at their own expense was the only duty 
imposed upon the great vassals, and 'the natural consequence of this absence of revenue 
was that perpetual and arbitrary variation of the market price of money decreed by the 
sovereigns, in order, fictitiously, to raise the value of their feebl^ resources. However, 
in certain critical positions, the kings addressed themselves to the States-General, in 
order to obtain the aides, or extraordinary help, of which the assemblies voted the 
gathering for a limited period ; the taxes might be upon the revenue, upon the sale of 
merchandise, or upon landed property. Such was the nature of the taxes established in 
1335. This system continued until 1439, at which period Charles VII. established an 
annual and permanent tax. 

There were then in France four principal branches of public revenue, the names of 
which reappear every moment in this history, and it is of importance to know them. 

1st. The land tax, called taille, because in ancient times, the use of writing being 
little diffused, they noted the payment of this tax by means of entailles, or notches cut 
in a piece of wood. It was only collected by people of mean origin. 

2nd. The aides. This name, which at first included all the taxes, ended by being 
applied specially to the taxes laid upon drinks, beasts, fish, wood, tallow and candles, 
the weirs of rivers and canals — in one word, to that which we call, at the present day, 
indirect taxation. 

3rd. The gabelle (from the German word gale, which signifies a tax). This was the 
tax upon salt. Little burdensome in its origin, this tax became at last the most heavy 
charge and the most vexatious of the whole ancient system of French finance, every head 
of a family [throughout the most part of the provinces being compelled to buy very 
dearly from the royal granaries a certain quantity of salt, fixed by edicts, and repre- 
senting the supposed consumption of his family. 

4th. The revenues of the domain of the crown. 

1350-1364] CIVIL TKOUBLES. 239 

•which persons of every estate and all conditions were included, 
wounded the pretensions of the nobility and clergy, and caused an 
intolerable inquisition to weigh heavily upon the mercantile classes, 
and interfered with every commercial operation. 

Soon fatal symptoms of discord made themselves manifest. The 
people murmured, the foreign merchants abandoned the 

r r ' a . Civil troubles. 

kingdom, the French merchants gave up their business, 
and commerce was extinguished ; both town and country were opposed 
to the gdbelle, and spread complaints against the States everywhere. 
The ecclesiastics refused to pay the tax, threatening to suspend alto- 
gether the divine service. Many seditions broke out. Arras arose, 
and fourteen of the bourgeois were slaughtered by the mob. In the 
middle of these calamities the time arrived when the States ought to 
assemble anew ; but already the people, incapable of going back to the 
source of evil, saw the deputies with mere distrust ; they suspected 
them of complicity with their oppressors. A large number of the 
towns abstained from sending representatives to the States ; the 
Normans and the Picards refused to be represented there, and declared 
that they would not pay the two established taxes. The King of 
Navarre and the Count d'Harcourt supported the disaffected. The 
new States- General, much less numerous than their predecessors, 
abolished the gabelle and the aide of eight deniers in the pound on the 
sale of all merchandise, and replaced those imposts by a tax rendered 
proportional to the fortune of each person. 

However, the King, who had only granted a pardon to Charles of 
Navarre for the murder of his Constable through impotence to avenge 
him, seized an occasion to satisfy, at one blow, his ancient and his 
new resentments. He learned that on a fixed day the Dauphin had 
invited to his table, at the chateau of Rouen, the King of Navarre, 
the Count d'Harcourt, and some other noblemen. He immediately 
left Orleans, where he then resided, entered Rouen on the day ap- 
pointed, followed by a numerous escort, and presented himself at the 
entrance of the hall where the nobles were seated at table. Lord 
Arnould d'Andeneham preceded him, and, drawing his sword, said, 
" Let no one stir for anything that he may see, unless he wishes to 
•die by this sword." King John advanced towards the table, and the 
guests, seized with terror, rose in order to salute him, when, laying 


his hand upon Charles of Navarre, the King stopped him, and, shaking 

him with rudeness, " Traitor," said he, "you are not 

of Navarre by ' worthy of sitting at the table of my son. I neither wish 

King John. . 

to eat nor to drink as long as you shall live. A witness 
of this violence, Oollinet de Breville, a knight of the King of Navarre, 
pointed his sword at the breast of the King, and said that he would 
slay him. "Let this man and his master be arrested," said King 
John. His sergeant-at-arms immediately seized the King of Navarre, 
who vainly implored mercy. The Dauphin, then very young, threw 
himself at the feet of his father. "Oh, sire!" said he, "you will 
dishonour me. What will they say of me, when I have invited the 
King and the nobles to my house, and you have treated them thus ? 
They will say that I have been treacherous." " Hold your peace, 
Charles ! " answered the King ; " they are evil traitors : you know 
not all that I know." The King then advanced some paces, and, 
seizing a club, he struck the Count d'Harcourt with it between the 
shoulders, and said, " Proud traitor ! by the soul of my father you 
shall not escape." Two nobles of the suite of the King of Navarre 
were arrested with that prince and his knight. King John caused his 
prisoners to be dragged outside the chateau, and said to the chief 
of his guards, " Free us from these men." D'Harcourt and the 

three noblemen were then immediately beheaded before 

Execution of the 

Count d'Harcourt }±i mt Roval dignitv saved Charles of Navarre. John 

and other J ° J 

noblemen, 1355. S p are d his head, but he held him prisoner closely con- 
fined in a tower of the Louvre, and seized his French apanage.* 

This act of violence drew down great misfortunes on the kingdom. 
Philip of Navarre, father of King Charles, and Geoffrey d'Harcourt, 
uncle of the beheaded Count, immediately united themselves with the 
King of England, and recognized him as the King of Prance, and 
paid him homage for their domains. Edward proclaimed himself 
the avenger of the executed gentlemen. He sent a formidable army 
into Normandy, while the Prince of Wales carried fire and sword into 
the heart of the country, ravaged Auvergne, Limousin, and Berry, and 
approached Tours. John, whose vindictive fury had brought down 
this tempest upon France, made an oath that he would fight with the 
Prince of Wales wherever he should meet him, and called together all 

* Froissarfc, Chronicles. 

1350-1364] BATTLE OF POITIERS. 241 

liis nobility. The army assembled in 1356, in the plains of Chartres, 
and overtook the English in the neighbourhood of Poitiers. Already 
scarcity had made itself felt in the camp of the enemy, and the Black 
Prince offered very advantageous terms for France. If John had not 
fought, the English would have been conquered by famine and compelled 
to lay down their arms ; but so much prudence did not enter into the 
spirit of those chivalric times. Battles were not founded on calcu- 
lations, but were merely the fruit of an unexpected meeting and a 
warlike impulse ; they decided less the existence than the honour 
of nations. The French army, besides, was more than fifty thou- 
sand strong, while the army of the enemy only consisted of eight 
thousand. King John, then, resolved to fight : he felt confident of 

The Black Prince had only two thousand knights, four thousand 
archers, and two thousand foot soldiers, and he saw before him an 
army of fifty thousand men, amongst whom, besides the King of 
France and his four sons, there were twenty- six dukes B 
or counts, and a hundred and forty knights banneret. Poitiers . 1356 - 
He fixed his camp at Maupertuis, two leagues north of Poitiers, upon 
a hill covered with hedges, bushes, and vines, impracticable for cavalry, 
and favourable to sharpshooters ; he concealed his archers in the 
bushes, dug ditches, and surrounded himself with palisades and 
waggons. In fact, he converted his camp into a great redoubt, open 
only in the centre by a narrow defile, which was lined by a double 
hedge. At the top of this defile was the little English army, crowded 
together, and protected on every side. There was, moreover, an 
ambuscade of six hundred knights and archers behind a small hill 
which separated the two armies. 

The French army was disposed in an oblique line, in three 
battalions or divisions. The left and most advanced wing was 
commanded by the Duke of Orleans, brother of the King ; the centre, 
somewhat further back, by the sons of the King ; the right wing or 
reserve by the King himself. The cries of the combatants could 
already have been heard, when two legates interposed their mediation. 
The Prince of Wales offered to restore his conquests and his prisoners, 
and not to serve against France for seven years ; but John exacted 
that he should give himself up as a prisoner with a hundred knights. 



The English, refused, and the King, who could have taken him by 
famine, ordered the battle. 

A corps of three hundred French men-at-arms rushed into the 
defile ; a shower of arrows destroyed it. The corps which followed, 
disturbed by this attack, threw itself back upon the left wing, and 
threw it into disorder. This was only a combat of the advanced guard ; 
but the English ambuscade throwing itself suddenly upon the centre 
division, that also was seized with panic and terror, and took to flight 
without having fought. At this sight, Chandos, the most illustrious 
captain of the English army, said to the Black Prince, " Ride forward : 
the day is yours ! " The English descended the hill, and carried 
everything before them. " Three sons of the King," says Froissart, 
" with more than eight hundred lances, in good condition and whole, 
took to flight without ever "approaching their enemies."* The left 
wing took refuge in disorder behind the division of the King, which 
was already in trouble, but intact. The English went out from the 
defile in good order, and advancing into the plain found before them 
that division where was the King, his youngest son, and his brilliant 
staff of nobles. The French had still the advantage over their 
enemies, who were very inferior to them in numbers ; but John, 
remembering, to his misfortune, that the disaster at Cressy had been 
caused by the French cavalry, cried out, " On foot ! on foot ! " He 
himself descended from his horse and placed himself at the head of his 
•own men, a battle-axe in his hand. The engagement was fierce and 
bloody ; but the French knights were unable to struggle on foot 
against the great horses of the English and the arrows of the archers. 
They fought until they were all killed or taken, but without order, by 
troops or by companies, as they found. themselves gathered together or 
scattered. Thus perished all the flower of the chivalry of France. The 
King remained almost alone, with bare head, wounded, intrepid, 
fighting bravely with his axe, accompanied by his young son, who 
parried the blows of his enemies. He was obliged to give himself up. 

The Black Prince, scarcely twenty- six years of age, showed himself 

worthy of his good fortune: he surrounded the van- 
King- John is J . 1 . 
made prisoner. quished King with respect, serving mm at table, standing, 

with head uncovered, and declaring that he had deserved the prize 

* Chronicles, 


for valour on that memorable day. Such was the disastrous issue of 
the celebrated battle of Poitiers. The Dauphin, already named by his 
father lieutenant-general of the kingdom, took the reins of state 
during the captivity of the King ; he issued six ordinances concerning 
the coinage, in order to provide for the first wants of the treasury, 
and assembled at Paris in the same year the States of the Langue 

The disaster of Poitiers and the captivity of the King had plunged 
the kingdom in sorrow, and every one, at the height of 

to J ' _ ° States-General of 

this dangerous crisis, understood the extreme importance 1356 - 
of the States- General convoked by the Dauphin in 1356 : eight hundred 
deputies were sent to it, and it was presided over by Charles de 
Blois, Duke of Brittany. On the demand for fresh subsidies, they 
answered by the election of several commissioners, taken from each 
order, and who in their imperious requests demanded — the sole power 
in matters of finance throughout the states ; the power to bring to 
judgment the counsellors of the King ; the creation of a permanent 
council of four prelates, twelve knights, and twelve bourgeois, in order 
to assist the young regent ; lastly, the right of the States to meet 
together without royal . convocation. Upon these conditions they 
agreed to furnish an army of thirty thousand men. 

Jealous of the authority which the States arrogated to themselves, 
the Dauphin requested time for reflection ; he dragged out the dis- 
cussions to great length, flattered the deputies, deceived them by 
vain speeches, and tired them ; the greater part returned to their 
homes ; and at last the assembly separated without obtaining any- 
thing or granting anything. 

The English then desolated the most beautiful provinces of the 
kingdom ; commerce was annihilated ; the soldiers, dis- - , „ 

7 ' Desolation of the 

banded and without pay, ravaged the country. There kin s dom - 
was no more safety for the peasants in their cottages, for the monks 
and nuns in their convents ; the fields abandoned remained unculti- 
vated, and the towns received a multitude of men without asylum and 
without bread, who caused famine to enter with them within their 
walls ; the enemy, in short, was at the gates of Paris. 

In the midst of so much calamity, Etienne Marcel, chief of the 

R 2 


merchants of the capital, a true representative of the Third Estate in 
the fourteenth century, displayed great courage and the qualities 
of a superior genius. He reanimated the Parisians, finished and 
fortified the precincts within the walls of the town, caused iron 
chains to be stretched across the streets, accustomed the bourgeois 
to arms, and, strengthened by an immense popularity, he presented 
himself at the famous States of 1357, convoked at Paris, 


states-General of in general assembly, by the Dauphin. Robert le Coq, 


Bishop of Laon, spoke for the clergy, John de Pequigny 
for the nobility, and Etienne for the Third Estate. Assembled in a 
time of disorder, convoked by a prince who could do nothing without 
their concurrence, in the heart of an excited country, the new States 
reproduced the requests of the preceding assembly, adding to them 
other pretensions, and forcing upon him all their demands. In 

exchange for a subsidy destined to furnish thirty thou- 

Concessionsofthe , .. . - . ., n n 

Dauphin. Ordi- sand men, and which was to be collected and managed, 

nance of 1357. 

not by the people of the King, but by those of the 
States, the Dauphin engaged solemnly to turn aside nothing for his 
personal interest, from the money consecrated to the defence of the 
kingdom, to refuse every letter of pardon for atrocious crimes, no more 
to sell or farm out the offices of judicature, to seek out and to punish 
prevaricators in the Chamber of Exchequer and in that of Public 
Inquiry, to establish good money, and to bring about no further 
change without the consent of the three States, to prohibit every 
prize for royal service, and to cause the collectors accused of em- 
bezzlement to render an account. Such were, in brief, the principal 
dispositions of the celebrated ordinance of 1357. The Dauphin swore 
besides that he would conclude no truce without the sanction of 
the States, and that he would dismiss as " unworthy of all charge," 
twenty- two counsellors, to whom public hatred attributed all the 
misfortunes of the country. The States before separating agreed 
to meet again three times before the end of the year, and appointed 
thirty-six commissioners, taken from their midst, to administrate 
finances and direct affairs, in concert with the prince, during the 
intervals of the sittings. 

By these conditions,, to which the Dauphin consented, we can judge 


of the number of grievances raised against the court and the nobles, and 
of the enormity of the abuses under which the nation Considerations 
groaned. These reforms were attempted by the prevot ordered by the 

. States, in 1327. 

Etienne Marcel, and by the Bishop Robert le Coq, ancient 
legist, both of whom used culpable violence to sustain them. The 
lasting success of their great enterprise was impossible. The only class 
which could then rightly believe itself interested in the triumph of the 
principles which they established was the class of the Third Estate, or 
bourgeoisie, and they did not form a body animated throughout by the 
same spirit. Disseminated through a great number of towns, feudally 
in submission to a similar number of powerful nobles, and, for the 
most part, recently united with the kingdom, the diversity of their 
customs, their manners, their prejudices, and of their material in- 
terests, rendered the men of the bourgeois class rivals, and jealous of 
one another ; no social tie existed between them ; feebly affected by 
the general destinies of the state, which offered to them no advantage, 
they revolted against the sacrifices which its defence exacted. When 
they could do so with impunity, they disavowed their representatives, 
and did not lend them the support necessary against the jealousy of 
the privileged orders. It was necessary that the action of a central 
and energetic power should make itself felt in the time still to come, in 
order to blend together so many particular wishes in one general will, 
and before there could arise in France a national spirit wise enough 
to comprehend the advantages that a vast and powerful association 
could procure, and the duties that it would impose ; a spirit also 
enlightened enough to appreciate at its just value public liberty, and 
strong enough to conquer it and defend it. The year 1357 was the 
period when the States- General had greatest power during the Middle 
Ages ; from that time they rapidly declined ; they lost, as did also 
the Third Estate, all political influence, and for some centuries were 
only empty shadows of national assemblies. 

King John had been conducted from Poitiers to Bordeaux, thence 
to London, and during the negotiations on the subject of His ransom 
a truce of two years was concluded between England and France. 
About the same time the death of Geoffroy d'Harcourt freed the 
Dauphin from an implacable foe. Charles breathed again ; he had 
only given way by constraint to the wish of the States, and he 


hastened to break from their yoke as soon as he could dispense with 
dissimulation. He retained the ministers whom he had promised to 
dismiss and prosecute, and, at their instigation, he encouraged the pre- 
tensions of the nobles and the murmurs of the people in opposition to 
the votes of the States. The contributions consented to by them were 
never paid ; the prince then'declared that he alone ruled, and dismissed 
the thirty-six commissioners. They, feeling that public opinion, the 
only power capable of sustaining them, had abandoned them, separated 
without any resistance. From that time the struggle was only sustained 
by the bourgeoisie of Paris, and its magistrates stretched their authority 
over the whole of France.* Troubled with the hostile disposition of 
the Dauphin, the chiefs of the movement desired to gain a protector 
capable of defending them, and cast their regards upon the King of 
Navarre, then a prisoner in the castle of Arleux. John 

The King of ' r 

Navarre set at d e Pequig-nv took the fortress, and set free the Kins', 

liberty by John 1 B J ' ^ °' 

de Pequigny, w k re turned to Paris, where he was received as the 
future liberator of the kingdom. 
The new States assembled on the 17th of November, 1357, but they 
only found a few deputies for the clergy, and not a single noble ; their 
influence was void, and the struggle continued between the Commons 
of Paris and the Dauphin, who failed in his promises, and braved 
public opinion by drawing nearer to his person the ministers and 
great officers condemned by the preceding States. No tribunal had 
dared to prosecute them ; they affected the most profound contempt 
for the nation, threatening to re-establish all the abuses. The moment 
of the crisis had arrived. The celebrated prevot of the merchants, 
Marcel, had recourse to violent measures. He made the Parisians 
adopt a national colour, and gave them for a rallying sign a red and 
blue hood, the colours of the town of Paris. He appeared, followed by 
armed men, before the Dauphin, on either side of whom he found the 
Lord of Conflans, Marshal of Champagne, and Robert de Clermont, 
Marshal of Normandy, both of whom had been proscribed by the 

* The convocation of the States- General, at Paris, on the 7th of November, 1357, was 
made conjointly by the Dauphin and hj the prevot of the merchants of Paris. "And 
sent his letters to the people of the Church, to the nobles, and to the walled towns, and 
summoned them. The said prevot also sent his letter%, spoken of above, with the 
letters of my lord the Duke." — Chronicles of Saint-Denis. 

1350-1364] ETIENNE MARCEL. 247 

States. Some words were exchanged between the prince and Marcel ; 
then, upon a sign from the prevot, the men of his 

• t t j_t Murder of the 

suite drew their swords and massacred tne two marshals of 

Champagne and 

marshals. The Dauphin, covered with their blood, mi- Normandy, by 

the order of 

plored his life from Marcel, who placed upon his head Etienne Marcel, 

x A prevot of the 

the red and blue hood, and conducted him to the Hotel merchants. 

7 Marcel makes 

de Ville under the safeguard of the popular colours. h ]™ sel ?™ a , s *F 

° r jr f pans, 1358. 

There the Dauphin, seized with fright, declared to the 

people that the two assassinated marshals were traitors, and that they 

had deserved their fate. Marcel was king in Paris. 

This double assassination, in restoring for some time power to the 
States, did not consolidate them, but, on the contrary, only rendered 
their fall more certain; it raised up implacable resentments in the 
heart of the Dauphin and amongst the nobility. Already the two 
privileged orders were indignant at seeing the despised bourgeois 
exercising a power equal to their own ; secret hates fermented, the 
prejudices of the nobility divided the three orders, while the murder 
of the marshals caused discord to break out. The nobles of Champagne 
assembled together and demanded vengeance from the Dauphin ; he, 
who had become regent of the kingdom by his majority, profited by 
these arrangements, so favourable to his designs, and called together 
the States at Compiegne, far from the centre of agitation ; the 
nobility alone presented themselves in great numbers, and the reaction 
became imminent. Marcel foresaw the storm, and prepared for the 
combat ; he attacked the Louvre, then out of the capital, and took 
possession of it ; he united the town with the chateau, and fortified 
the precinct within the walls. The regent called round him the no- 
bility, and assembled seven thousand lancers, while, by the advice of 
Marcel, the bourgeois of Paris proclaimed the King of 

. r & Civil war, 1358. 

.Navarre their captam-general. Civil war commenced, 
and with it a new scourge showed itself. 

The people in the country, utterly powerless against the oppression 
which presented itself on every side, overcharged with taxes by the 
nobles, despised by the bourgeois, pillaged by the soldiers, suffered at 
this period from intolerable evils. A proverb of the time describes 
with energy their excessive misery. The nobles were in the habit of 
calling these unfortunate people by the name of Jacques Bonhomme, 


and said ironically, " Jacques Bonhomme does not part with his money 
unless lie is thrashed j out Jacques Bonhomme will pay, for he knows 
that he will he thrashed. The disaster of Poitiers increased the evils 
of this unfortunate class. The barons and gentlemen taken prisoners 
by the English, and released upon parole, submitted their serfs to 
atrocious persecutions in order to tear from them the price of their 
ransoms. Then the instinct of despair united the peasants ; one sole 
rp. T . sentiment seized their minds, that of a mad vengeance. 

The Jacquerie, ' & 

V3i)8 - In the Beauvoisis* they arose in a mass, and swore 

war to the death against the nobles. They burnt their castles, the 
inhabitants of which they tortured and massacred ; they violated and 
murdered women and girls, and pushed their fury even to forcing 
children to eat the body of their father, which they had burnt before 
their eyes. In fact, they committed every excess to which ignorant 
and barbarous men, for a long period victims of a cruel oppression, 
could abandon themselves to. In a short time they were masters of 
ail the country between the Oise and the Seine ; many towns, Paris 
even, received them as allies against the common enemy. This rising 
received in history the name of the Jacquerie. It was soon suppressed ; 
the nobility, invincible under its iron armour, exterminated these half- 
naked wretches. Dispersed before Meaux, they nearly all perished, 
and the plains throughout many provinces became deserted. 

Paris was then besieged by the army of the Dauphin ; the bourgeois 
sie"-e of Pms suspected Charles the Bad of treachery, and dismissed 
theDaupnm. him. Soon the peril of the capital became extreme, and 
Marcel had no other hope than that which he reposed in the prince 
whom they had just expelled. He had an interview with the King of 
Navarre ; he reminded him that on the female side he was the nearest 

* Some people from the rural towns, without any chief, assembled in Beauvoisis, and at 
first did not number one hundred men, and said that all the nobles in the kingdom of 
France, chevaliers and knights, disgraced and betrayed the kingdom, and that it would be 
to the general good if they were destroyed. Then they assembled, and without further 
counsel, and no arms except sticks tipped with iron and knives, they issued forth. . . . 
And they multiplied so greatly that they were soon six thousand in number ; and where- 
ever they went their number increased ; for each one of their own class followed them. 
(Chronicles of Froissart, Book I., Second Part, chap, lxv.) But they were already 
so multiplied that if they had been together they would have numbered a hundred thou- 
sand men. And when they were asked why they acted so, they answered that they did 
not know, but they vowed to make others do the same, and did it also. —(Ibid. , chap. Ixvi. ) 


heir to the throne, and invited him to return to Paris. He engaged 
at the same time to give to him the title of captain-general, perhaps 
to proclaim him king. The King of Navarre, dazzled, accepted the 
offer, and it was arranged that, on the night between the 31st of July 
and the 1st of August, the gate and bastille of Saint-Denis should be 
delivered up to him. But a bourgeois named Maillard, a partisan of 
the Dauphin, had discovered the plot. Accompanied by armed men, 
he presented himself at midnight at the gate Saint-Denis, took Marcel 
with the keys in his hand, cried out " Treason !" and slew him with a 
blow on the forehead from a battle-axe. The same blow struck all the 
party of the tribune. The death of the famous prevot 

-... . The assassina- 

smootlied the way tor the regent, who entered .Paris tionof Marcel, 

. . 1358. 

as a conqueror, leaning on the shoulder of Maillard, and 
signalized his power by numerous executions. 

Meanwhile, King John, weary of his long captivity, had signed a 
disgraceful treaty, which gave over half of France to England. This 
treaty was rejected with one voice by the regent and the States of 
1359. The Dauphin, who had gained popularity by this patriotic act, 
then declared that the ministers and great officers proscribed by the 
preceding States had never lost his confidence, and re-established 
them in their posts. He received some subsidies, but the people 
could not pay, and in order to sustain the war against the 
English — encamped at Bourg-la-Reine, two leagues from Paris — he 
again altered the coinage. The celebrated treaty of Bretigny (near 
to Chartres) terminated at last the hostilities between Treat . of 
France and England. Its principal articles declared that B ^tiguy, 13 ^o. 
Guienne, Poitou, South Gascony, Ponthieu, Calais, and some fiefs, 
should remain entirely in the possession of the King of England ; that 
Edward should renounce his pretensions to the crown of France, to 
JSTormandy, Brittany, Maine, Touraine and Anjou, possessed by his 
ancestors, and that John should pay three millions of gold crowns for 
his ransom. The two sovereigns confirmed this treaty at Calais 
in 1360. 

Great calamities followed the deliverance of King John. That 
prince, in granting his daughter to Galeas Yisconti of Milan, had 
caused him to purchase the honour of his alliance for a hundred 
thousand florins. This sum was useful to France for the ransom of 

250 DEATH OF KING JOHN. [Book II. Chap. III.. 

the King, but was far from being sufficient. The people were laid 
under arbitrary taxation, and their misery increased. 


throughout the Numerous companies of adventurers, always in the pay 

kingdom. r . 

of the party who offered the most, and without employ- 
ment in time of peace, infested the plains; the fields remained 
uncultiyated ; and famine, followed by a plague of three years' dura- 
tion, devastated the kingdom. 

In the midst of so many evils a happy circumstance occurred 
for France. John acquired Burgundy by the death of Philip de 
Bouvre,* the last duke, to whom he succeeded, in his capacity of 
nearest relative. But he did not at all understand the importance 
of this acquisition in the national interest, and hastened to detach 
this beautiful province anew from his crown, giving it as an apanage 
™.m- „.- ™ « to his fourth son Philip, whose valorous conduct at 

Philip the Bold, r7 

^cond houseof P°itiers had gained for him the surname of the Bold, 
Burgundy, 1362. an( j ^ Q p a t e rnal predilection. Thus the second house of 
Burgundy was founded, which rendered itself so formidable in Prance. 
Each of the acts of this King appears to be marked with the stamp of 
the most deplorable fatality. After so many faults, and in the midst 
of cries of distress from the nation, he contemplated uniting himself 
with the King of Cyprus, who was engaged in a new crusade, and, 
encouraged by the Pope Urban V., he took up the cross at Avignon; 
but he soon learned that his son, the Duke of Anjoa, had fled from 
England, where he had left him as a hostage : from this circumstance he 
experienced very great affliction. If guilty of complicity with his son, 
the King would have violated the laws of chivalry, which he respected 
even to a nicety. Impatient to justify himself, he demanded a safe 
_ .. . „. conduct, obtained it, and returned to England, where he 

Death of King ' ' o ' 

John, 1364. died in 1364. Pew kings, with his estimable qualities and 

right intentions, have drawn down more evils upon their people. The 
following beautiful sentiment has been attributed to this prince : — 
If good faith were banished from the rest of the ivorld, it ought still to 
be found in the hearts of Icings ; a noble maxim, which would have 
done more honour to King John if it had always inspired his actions. 

* This name came to him from the castle of Rouvre, where he was born. Philip de 
Rouvre was the last descendant of Robert, son of Robert King of France, and founder 
of the first Capetian house of Burgundy. 

1364-1380] CHARLES V. 251 




When Charles V. mounted the throne he was twenty-nine years 
of age. He had already governed France for nearly 
eight years. Nothing then announced in him the 
restorer of the monarchy. Wot much esteemed by the nobility, on 
account of his unwarlike qualities and his conduct at Poitiers ; hated 
by the bourgeoisie, which he had subdued by executions ; weak in 
body, and of a sickly constitution, everything appeared likely to 
become an obstacle during his reign. And yet, by his address and 
prudence, more than by great talent, he was enabled to reconquer 
a large part of the provinces which his father had lost. He re-estab- 
lished order in the interior of the kingdom ; but all this could only 
be done at the expense of the authority of the States- General, whom 
he strove to annul. His principal merit consisted in the sagacity with 
which he appreciated circumstances and men, arranged useful alliances, 
seized always the favourable moment to attack his enemies, and 
attached to himself skilful ministers and great generals, at the head 
of whom appeared Boucicaut, Olivier de Clisson, and the brave Du 
Guesclin. He is justly reproached with having neither respected the 
rights of the people nor the treaties with his enemies ; but, having 
occupied the throne between two disastrous epochs, he ought to have 
double credit for the repose which France appeared to enjoy under 
his reign, and posterity confirmed the surname of Wise which he 
received from his contemporaries. 

Nothing threw more brilliancy upon the reign of Charles V., and 
contributed more to his success, than the illustrious Ber- 
trand du Guesclin. A simple Breton gentleman, with no 
personal advantages, accomplishments, or fortune, of a mind so little 


opened that he could never learn to read, he had nothing appa- 
rently of that which announces a hero, except his valour. This was 
the man who, after having fought obscurely for Charles de Blois upon 
the heaths of Brittany, became the first captain of the age, whom 
God seemed to have caused to be born a contemporary of Charles V. 
in order to save France. "A strong soul," says his historian, 
" nourished in iron, moulded under the palms, and in which Mars 
held school for a long period." His first exploit for Charles was 
a victory. Boucicaut had just taken by surprise the town of Mantes, 
which belonged to the King of Navarre ; that of Meulan had like- 
wise fallen into the hands of the French. The Captal or Seignior of 
Buch, a brave Gascon captain in the service of Charles the Bad, 
made arrangements in order to _ take his revenge. He united with 
John Joel, an English captain, and, afc the head of seven hundred 
lancers, three hundred archers, and five hundred foot soldiers, he 
awaited the French in the neighbourhood of Cocherel, near Evreux, 
B u where he arranged his troops on the height of a hill, 

Cocherel. on j^ 1Q "border of a wood. Bertrand du Guesclin ap- 

proached ; he perceived that the Captal possessed the advantage of 
the ground ; but his own soldiers were in want of provisions : it was 
necessary to give fight, and draw the enemy into the plain. Du 
Guesclin had not his equal in stratagems of war ; he prepared an 
ambuscade and ordered a precipitate retreat. John Joel, deceived by 
this artifice, rushed forward, against the orders of the Captal, to the 
cry of " Forward, Saint George ! Who loves me follows me ! " The 
Captal saw the peril, and followed John Joel to save him ; but then 
the French stopped. "Forward, friends!" cried Du Guesclin, "the 
day is ours. For God's sake remember that we have a new king in 
France, and that to-day his crown must be handselled by us ! " A 
fierce combat then took place, and the ambuscade showed itself; thirty 
knights rushed upon the Captal at a gallop and took him prisoner. 
The victory was- vigorously disputed : but John Joel fell, wounded to 
death, and the men of Navarre, without a chief, dispersed, only a 
small number contriving to escape. The victory of Cocherel placed in 
submission to Charles Y. nearly the whole of Normandy. He received 
the news at Reims, in the midst of the fetes of his coronation, and 
recompensed Du Guesclin by the gift of the county of Longueville. 

1364-1380] THE GREAT COMPANIES. 253 

The war went on continuously in Brittany between the two aspi- 
rants, the son of John de Montfort and of the celebrated Jeanne de 
Flandres, allied with the English, and Charles de Blois, sustained by 
France. The celebrated battle of Auray, when the latter 
was slain, was soon followed by the treaty of Guerande, Treaty of Gu<$- 

. _ n . rande. End of the 

which assured the duchy of Brittany to Montfort. This war in Brittany, 

,; J 1365. 

treaty, signed with care by Charles V., rendered the 

duchy reversible to the widow and children of Charles de Blois in 

case Montfort died without issue. Thus terminated an atrocious war, 

which had lasted twenty- four years. The Duke of Montfort, under 

the name of John V., hastened to return to Paris, where he did 

homage to the King. 

Charles V. found himself at last at peace with all his neighbours. 

His people began to breathe again, and returned to the work of the 

fields, interrupted for so long a period ; order and peace existed once 

more. But the scourge of the companies of adventurers m . 

o r The great com- 

threatened to arrest this return to a better state, and to P ani8S - 

ruin the kingdom. During this period, when the caprices of princes, 
a gift, an exchange, or a marriage decided every day the destiny of 
the people, a multitude of men considered themselves as belonging to 
no country, and offered their swords to any one who sought their 
services. The length of the wars, which rendered their services 
necessary to so many princes ; the feebleness of the laws, which seemed 
to authorize all kinds of disorder and violence, had, during twenty- 
five years, prodigiously increased the number of these greedy and 
licentious men. When France was at peace, they all remained without 
employment and without means of existence. They then spread 
themselves like wild beasts over the country, and there committed 
frightful ravages. The only means of subduing them so far had been 
by arming against them the national militia of the kingdom ; but 
experience had taught Charles to fear above all things the influence of 
the middle classes. He refused to increase their number, and from 
that time, not being able to exterminate the great companies, he was 
compelled to employ them. For a considerable time Peter, King of 
Castile, surnamed the Cruel, had alienated himself from his family 
and subjects by acts of atrocity. He had poisoned his wife, Blanche 
of Bourbon, and ordered the murder of his natural brother, Henry of 


Transtamare ; tlie latter, in the hope of punishing him and of sup- 
planting him upon the throne, implored the assistance of Charles V., 
.^ . . and obtained it. Charles seized with eagerness this 

War against ° 

Kin" o^CaSe 1 ' occas i° n 0I> avenging Blanche, his relation, and of 
1366- giving employment to the great companies, whose 

"brigandages he feared. Du Guesclin commanded the expedition. 
In charging him with this difficult mission, the King embraced him 
with all his heart. "Valiant Bertrand," said he to him, "I owe 
you more than if you had conquered a province for me." 

These terrible adventurers, in passing near Avignon, to which 
place the popes for half a century had transferred their residence, 
levied contributions on the sovereign Pontiff. They afterwards entered 
Spain, and the troops of Peter disbanded themselves before them. 
That prince, repulsed by his subjects, driven from Portugal, where he 
sought a refuge with Peter the Justiciary, as barbarous as himself, 
abandoned his throne to his rival, and retired to the court of the 
Prince of Wales, who received him at Bordeaux with great honours ; 
and Henry took possession of the crown of Castile without obstacle. 

But Peter solicited succour from the English, and promised 
to enrich their captains ; and the Prince of Wales armed in his 
favour without breaking with France. The great companies, who 
had just established Transtamare on the throne, rushed now to the 
side of his brother, drawn by the appetite for gold which he promised 
them. Du Guesclin supported Transtamare, but the latter was con- 
Battie of quered by the Prince of Wales at the battle of Nava- 

rette, and Du Gruesclin was made prisoner. Peter the 
Cruel recovered his kingdom, and his brother, a fugitive, sought 
refuge with the Duke of Anjou, eldest of the brothers of Charles V. 
and commandant of Languedoc. That prince, an enemy of the 
English, received Transtamare as, in the preceding year, the Prince 
of Wales had received Peter the Cruel. 

Du Gruesclin was only able to recover his liberty by defying the 
English prince to grant it to him. He himself fixed his ransom at a 
hundred thousand gold florins, and when the prince asked him how 
a poor knight could find such a sum : " The Kings of France and 
Castile will pay it," answered Bertrand; "and there are a hundred 
Breton knights who would sell their lands to make up that sum; 

1364-1380] BATTLE OF MONTIEL. 255 

and the girls who spin, in my country, would make more than my 
ransom with their distaffs rather than that I should be left prisoner !" 
The Princess of Wales contributed twenty thousand livres on the spot, 
and the brave Chandos, rival of Du Guesclin, offered his purse to 
deliver him. Freed on parole, Du Guesclin departed in order to 
gather together his ransom. He returned with it ; but whilst on the 
road he met ten poor knights, who had great difficulty in finding 
their ransoms. He gave them all, and arrived at Bordeaux with 
empty hands to retake his place in prison. Charles V. paid his 
ransom and set him at liberty. He then sent him anew into Spain, 
at the head of his army ; and Du Guesclin, conqueror Battle of 
at the battle of Montiel, replaced Transtamare, for a 
second time, upon the throne of Castile. Peter the Cruel was made 
prisoner. On recognizing each other, the two rival brothers threw 
themselves with rage upon one another, and Peter died, stabbed by 
the hand of Henry, in the tent of Du Guesclin. 

At this period Charles contemplated the recovery of those provinces 
which had been ceded to the English by his father ; and saw with joy 
Edward III. enervated, more by pleasures than by age, and his illus- 
trious son, the Black Prince, the conqueror of Cressy, of Poitiers, and 
of Navarette, attacked by a wasting disease the symptoms of which 
were mortal. He deceived the English monarch by demonstrations of 
friendship, and fomented revolt in all the provinces given over to 
England by the treaty of Bretigny. The English treated the in- 
habitants of these countries more as vanquished people than as 
brothers and fellow-citizens. Hence arose amongst them an ardent 
desire to be restored to France. 

Charles profited by these inclinations, and attached to himself the 
most influential nobles. A rising broke out in Gascony on Rising f the 
the occasion of a hearth- tax, an imposition established by th^E "gifshT nS 


the English prince upon each fire. The Gascons claimed 
that, up to that time, they had been free from all taxes, and appealed 
to the King of France, as sovereign of Guienne and of Gascony. 
Charles V., in contempt of the treaty of Bretigny, which granted 
these provinces in complete sovereignty to Edward, received their 
appeal, and caused the Black Prince to be summoned before the 
Chamber of Peers, as his subject. He believed he was powerful 


enough at the same time to venture upon some acts of popularity 
without compromising his power. He dared to convoke the States, 
states-General, an( l pretended to consult them, being assured beforehand 


that he would find them docile. They assembled in 
1369, and approved of all the acts of his reign without restriction. 
He prosecuted his designs against England ; he increased the privi- 
leges of the revolted towns,* which gave themselves up to France ; 
and the clergy, won over by him, raised the people in his favour. 
Lastly, when he had arranged everything for success, the Court of 
Peers issued, in 1370, a decision declaring that, in default of having 
Decision of the appeared before it, Edward was deprived of his rights 
Stast Edward w ^ n regard to Aquitaine and his other possessions in 
in., 1379. France, and it confiscated them to the profit of the 

crown. A scullion was entrusted to carry this sentence to the 
English monarch, who, seized with indignation, prepared for war. 

Charles V. strengthened his position with Scotland and Spain. A 
„ Castilian fleet, victorious over the English fleet at 

Recommence- ' & 

™eTwith h0stlll ~ Rochelle, opened for him Poitou ; the Constable Du 
England, 1370. Gruesclin subdued this province to France. The Duke 
of Brittany, Montfort, was from his heart devoted to the English, 
who had restored to him his duchy : he allied himself with Edward. 
But Charles knew how to manage the friendship of the Breton nobles. 
Two of their number, Olivier de Clisson and Du G-uesclin, enjoyed his 
highest favour ; they gained over for Charles the hearts of their com- 
patriots, and the duke was expelled from his duchy, which allied itself 
with France against England. Edward, however, assembled together 
a powerful army ; it disembarked at Calais, under the command of 
the Duke of Lancaster. Charles V., still struck with the recollec- 
tion of Cressy and Poitiers, ordered his generals to watch the 
enemy, to impede his movements, and to decline to give battle. His 
orders were obeyed. Lancaster encamped before Paris, and an 
English knisrht planted with impunity his lance in 

New system of ° or r j 

warfare. ^he gates of Saint Jacques. French valour, restrained 

* Royal decrees of 1370. Letters declaring that the inhabitants of Rodez should 
he able to transact business throughout the kingdom, without paying any rates for 
merchandise which they purchased (February, 1370); letters declaring that the town 
of Milhaud should be exempt from taxes for twenty years ; and an order granting 
privileges to the town of Tulle (May, 1370), &c. &c. 


by the prudence of the monarch, bore the insulting provoca- 
tions of the enemy from Calais as far as Guienne, where their army 
arrived exhausted and almost destroyed by disease, fatigue, and 
scarcity of provisions. The fortune of England tottered : its hero, 
the Prince of Wales, whose last and sad exploit was the sack of 
Limoges, was just dead ; Edward III. himself was drawing near to 
the tomb, and was about to abandon his sceptre to the hands of an 
infant. His fleet had been conquered at Rochelle ; his powerful army 
had consumed itself; already the fruits of the victory of Poitiers 
were lost to him, and France had recovered nearly all its provinces. 
The old King, so formidable in times of old, and now so humiliated, 
signed a truce with Charles V., and shortly afterwards Truce of B 
died in the arms of a courtesan, leaving the throne to England and 
his grandson, the unfortunate Richard II. France, 1375. 

Freed from his most dangerous enemy, Charles abandoned himself 
to his revenge against his brother-in-law, Charles the Bad, then in 
Spain, where he meditated an alliance with England. 

r ' ° Vengeance of 

He compelled the son of that prince, who had come CharlesV - 
without distrust to his court, to sign an order which gave over to the 
French all the places possessed by his father in Normandy. He 
caused also De Rue and Du Tertre to be arrested, the one chamberlain 
of the King of Navarre, and the other governor of one of his places, 
and both intimate friends of their master. They were given over to 
an extraordinary commission, and summoned to confess that their 
prince was guilty of atrocious crimes, and, among others, of an 
attempt to poison Charles. They repelled these horrible accusations, 
but this did not prevent them from being condemned to death and 
executed as accomplices of these crimes, in order to give a ground to 
the suspicions which Charles V. wished to bring to bear upon his 
brother-in-law. Bernay, Evreux, Pont-Audemer, Avranches, Mor- 
tain, Valognes, opened their gates, and in Normandy the town of 
Cherbourg alone belonged to the King of Navarre. 

This point seems to give us an opportunity for stopping a- moment 
to glance at the politics of Charles V. Arriving, as he 
did, at royalty under the most unfavourable circum- charles "V. 
stances, burdened with an enormous debt to pay to foreigners, without 
a treasury, without an army, he had seen Irs subjects diminish to one- 



half in number, by war, by famine, by pestilence, and despoiled by 
bands of brigands, masters of the kingdom. Nevertheless, in the 
course of years, he had succeeded in retaking from the English 
Ponthieu, Quercy, Limousin, Rouergue, Saintonge, Angoumois,. 
and Poitou. He had engaged the vassals of Upper Grascony to give 
themselves over to him, expelled the Duke of Brittany 

His policy. 

from his duchy, and the King of Navarre from nearly 
all his Norman possessions. Skilful also in exterior politics, he had 
favoured in Castile a revolution which, in assisting him to get rid of 
the pest of the great companies, promised to him a grateful ally. 
He attached Flanders to France, by assuring, through a marriage 
with his brother, Philip of Burgundy, the succession of that 
country ; he carefully preserved the friendship of John Graleas 
Visconti, his brother-in-law, master of Lombardy, and that of the 
Emperor Charles IV. ; whilst he held the Pope under his subjection at 
Avignon. The companies of adventurers had disappeared from the 
kingdom, the roads had become safe, order was re-esfcablished, royal 
authority was exercised without obstacle, and in all parts, at last, 
subjects who had been detached from the monarchy by a humiliating 
treaty, left the foreign yoke to become once more Frenchmen. 

Charles had gathered round him, in order to assist in accomplish- 
ing these happy changes, men little elevated by their 

Principal . . 

ministers of that birth, but by superior merit. Amongst them must be 


mentioned Guillaume and Michel de Dormans, Philip 
de Savoisy, and Bureau de la Riviere. These men had all his con- 
fidence ; they were his ministers, and not his favourites : whilst he 
took advantage of their counsels he always remained their master.* 
He ceased to alter the money, and did not oppress the people 
with taxes, substituting for the taille, or land-tax upon villeins, the 
indirect tax of the aides, which had for its particular object the 
taxation of both bourgeois and noble. 

This wise conduct ought to be attributed equally to his solicitude 
for his subjects and the fear with which they inspired him. Never 
did he forget that the people had made him tremble when he was 
only Dauphin ; and he rarely pardoned an- offence. However, he knew 

* For this reason, Freret is reported to have said of him, " Never L prince received 
so many counsels, and allowed himself to be less governed." 

1364-1380] DEATH OF POPE GREGORY XI. 259 

liow to put off chastisement, and he was, according to circumstances, 
master of his pity and likewise of his anger. When the English armies 
laid waste the country and burnt the villages under his eyes, no sign 
of pity escaped from him ; and Froissart, the historian of the period, 
narrates that in all these conflagrations he could only see smoke, 
which could not drive him from his inheritance. In his connection 
with the people, lastly, his principal aim seems to have been to compel 
them to submit to the sovereign will, without hearing a murmur, and 
without experiencing any resistance. He only once convoked the 
States- General during his reign, and substituted for them assemblies 
of the most considerable inhabitants, where he only admitted 
members of the Parliament and of the university, some prelates, and 
his great officers of state. The political power of the Third Estate 
found itself enfeebled; but at the same time Charles V., jealous of 
keeping the balance between the different classes of the nation, 
despoiled the nobles of many of their privileges. A Celebrated 
decree of 1372 exclusively reserved to the crown the decree of 1372 - 
right of granting charters to the municipalities, and of letters of en- 
noblement to private individuals. 

It was from the interior of his palace that he mysteriously directed 
all these intrigues. Prudence had always directed his policy ; and that 
which was the particular aim which he proposed to himself in all 
his acts, that which he strove to reach, was the only one which was 
then suited to the true interests of France. The end of this reign 
was not free from storms. Charles saw awakening round him in 
all directions symptoms of that fermentation, of that liberal tendency 
in men's minds, which he had taken such great care to suppress. 
Sectarians, known under the name of Beguins or Turlupins, multi- 
plied in his states : he allowed a large number of these unfortunates 
to be burnt alive ; but the executions could not restrain the flight of 
human reason. ISTew sects were formed, and the great Schism of the 
East stimulated throughout Europe the spirit of doubt and of inquiry. 

Gregory XI. died in 1378 at Rome, and the College of Cardinals 
gave him for a successor Bartholomew Prognagni, who took the name 
of Urban VI. The violent conduct of the new Pope soon alienated 
from him those who had crowned him ; threatened by him, they all 

s 2 


declared that his election was illegal ; they chose Robert of Geneva, 
who took the name of Clement VII., and went to take up his resi- 
dence at Avignon. Such was the origin of the famous Schism of the 
Great Schism of East. Europe divided itself between the two popes, 
the East, 13/9. each kingdom following its own political interests. 
Charles V. declared himself for Clement, who resided in France ; his 
allies, the sovereigns of Naples, of Castile, and Aragon, followed his 
example. The party of Urban VI. was embraced by England, by 
Bohemia, Hungary, Portugal, and Flanders. Charles, in declaring for 
one who was hereafter to be declared anti-pope, opened up, in spite 
of himself, new views to the independence of human reason and 

The symptoms of agitation thus visibly arising were not the 
only alarming movements which he saw in his latter years. Con- 
queror of the English without having fought them, he thought 
r, a l-^ c himself master enough over the minds of the Bretons 

Confiscation of ° 

Brittany 7 Revolt ^° confiscate their province and to unite it to his 
of the Bretons. domain# He deceived himself. The Duke John V., 
summoned by his order before the court of the Parliament, was 
judged by it before his summons was notified to him in Flanders, 
where he resided, and condemned without being heard, as being 
guilty of an alliance with England against his sovereign. He was 
declared deprived of his titles in Brittany, and the Parliament confis- 
cated his duchy in contempt of the rights of the widow and 
children of Charles de Blois, expressly reserved in the treaty of 
Guerande. Charles Y. did not gather any fruit from this unjust act. 
The inhabitants of that country, jealous of their national independence, 
arose in a body, recalled their duke, and welcomed him as their 
liberator ; the brave Breton captains left the royal army ; Du Guesclin, 
always faithful to the King, disapproved of his course, and became 
suspicious of him : his noble pride made him indignant. It is said 
that he wished to give up his Constable's sword, and was anxious to 
retire to Spain, in order to die there ; but, before leaving the standard 
of Charles, he went to rejoin the Marshal de Sancerre, his friend, and 
one of the most illustrious warriors of the age, before the little place 
of Chateau-Randon, in Grevaudan, which he was then besieging. He 

1364-1380] DEATH OF DU GUESCLIN. 261 

was attacked by a fatal malady. Feeling that death was approaching, 
he raised himself upon his conch, and taking in his vic- 

r^ -i-ii-iT Illness and 

torious hands the sword of the Constable, he looked upon death of Du 

Guesclin, 1380. 

it in silence, with tears in his eyes. " It has aided 
me," said he, "to conquer the enemies of my King, but it has given 
me cruel enemies near him." Then, turning towards Sancerre, "I 
deliver it over to you," continued he ; " and I protest that I have 
never betrayed the honour that the King did me when he entrusted it 
to me." He bowed his head, kissed his noble sword, and said to the 
old captains who surrounded him, "Forget not, in whatever land 
you may be engaged in war, that people of the Church, women, and 
children, are not your enemies." Upon the point of death, he 
dictated these words for Olivier de Clisson, his companion in arms. 
"My Lord Olivier, I feel that death approaches closely, and cannot 
say many things to you. You will say to the King that I am greatly 
grieved that I cannot serve him longer, and that, if Grod had granted 
me the time, I had good hope of clearing his kingdom of his Eng- 
lish enemies. He has goods ervants, who will exert themselves as 
much as I have done, especially you, my Lord Olivier, the first before 
all. I pray you deliver to the King the sword of the Constable ; he will 
know well how to dispose of it, and make choice of a person worthy 
of it. I commend to him my wife and my brother. Adieu ! I am not 
able to do more." The garrison of Randon had promised to give 
up the town if it were not succoured, and, faithful to its word, 
it deposited the keys of the town upon the coffin of the great 

Charles persevered in his objects of usurpation ; but his troops 
were driven from Brittany, and he met everywhere with 

Reverses of 

the same unanimity against himself which a short time diaries v. in 

J ° Brittany. 

ago had been shown in his favour against the English. 

Louis, Count of Flanders, also solicited assistance at the same time 

against his revolted subjects. A formidable rising also „. . , , 

° J o Rising of La>i- 

broke out in Languedoc, where the Duke of Anjou, £ uedoc « 
brother of the King, crushed the people by an intolerable oppression, 
Charles- was compelled to recall his brother, and took his government 
from him. He, lastly, saw the King of Navarre give up Cherbourg 
to the English, and a new English army fall upon the kingdom. 

262 DEATH OF CHARLES V. [Book II. Chap. IV. 

He ordered that it should be received in the same manner as that 
Death of Charles wn ^ cn preceded it. In the meanwhile, he died at his 
v., 1380. Castle of Beauty, on the Marne. His death was that of 

a Christian and of a monarch who had been long tried by the hard- 
ships of fortune. He assembled round him the prelates, the barons, 
and the members of his council, and addressed them on the different 
acts of his policy in a touching discourse, full of wisdom. Then he 
requested them to bring the crown of thorns of the Saviour, which 
they then believed that they possessed at Paris among a number of 
sacred relics. It was placed on high before him, and he prayed for 
a long time, fixing his eyes upon it. Afterwards, having caused his 
perishable crown — that used at the coronation of the kings — to be 
placed at his feet, he said, " O orown of France, that art precious and 
vile at the same time — precious, as the symbol of justice ; but vile, and 
most vile of all things, when we consider the labour, the anguish, the 
perils of the soul, the pains of the heart, the conscience, and the 
body, which thou castest upon those which bear thee — those who 
know all these things would rather leave thee lying in the mud than 
raise thee in order to place thee on their heads!" Afterwards, having 
received the extreme unction, the King ordered that the doors should 
be opened to his officers and to the people, and said, " I know that 
in the government of my kingdom I have given many causes of 
offence; for that I pray you accord me mercy: pardon me."* He 
then raised his arms, and stretched out his hands over all, in the 
midst of sighs and tears. He gave his blessing to his eldest son, the 
Dauphin, then eleven years old ; and whilst they read the Passion of 
the Saviour, from the Grospel of Saint John, he expired in the arms 
of the Lord of La Riviere, whom he tenderly loved, on the 26th of 
September, 1380, at the age of forty-four years. He had scarcely 
closed his eyes when his nearest relatives gave vent to the evil 
passions which they had restrained during his life. The eldest of his 
brothers and one of the tutors of his son, the avaricious and fierce 
Duke of Anjou, rushed into his chamber, seized his jewels, and 
pillaged the palace. The new reign commenced under these 
darkening auspices. 

* Livre des Faicts et bonnes Mceurs du sage Hoy Charles V. Par Christine de 


The arts and sciences were still very slightly cultivated in France 
during the reigns of John and Charles V. ; while at 

• . . General observa- 

the same time they began to nourish in Italy, where tions. Literature 

and science. 

Dante and Petrarch were then famous. The French 
nobles gave themselves up entirely to warlike exercises, and had the 
most profound contempt for men of intellect ; the most celebrated 
captains could only sign their names with difficulty, and Du Guesclin 
could not read. The principal works of antiquity, however, began to 
be known ; already there were several translations of Titus Livius, 
.Sallust, and of Caesar. The historian Froissart lived, 
and his simple and picturesque chronicle is one of the 
most precious monuments of modern history. Charles "V., one of 
the most educated men of his time, may be looked upon as the 
founder of the Bibliotheque Boyale. His father had only left him 
twenty volumes ; he collected together nine hundred, a prodigious 
number for the period. The greater part were books on theology, 
canon law, and astrology, the only sciences which were then studied. 

From the thirteenth century, clocks with wheels, spectacles, paper, 
earthenware, and crystal mirrors were known in Italy. The towns 
of that beautiful country, and also those of Flanders, possessed 
manufactures and enriched themselves by commerce, whilst war 
was almost the only occupation of the French. Gunpowder, which 
was frequently used in sieges, was despised in battles. The nobles 
did not care to favour the use of an arm which, in neutralizing in- 
dividual force, must contribute to the levelling of the ranks. 

The studies of the universities only taught the art of sustaining 
the vain disputes of scholastic theology. Careful to repulse every- 
thing that could encroach upon the authority of the Church, ihe 
popes interdicted in the universities the study of civil law, and only 
tolerated that of canon law. They still often decided the destinies of 
empires ; it was thus that Urban V., in granting permission to Philip 
the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to marry Marguerite of Flanders, the 
licence for which he had refused to the son of Edward III., firmly 
assured to the house of France the inheritance of that powerful count. 
The same Pope was again taken as arbiter by Charles V. and Charles 
the Bad, on the subject of their pretensions to Burgundy ; and later, 
Gregory XI. caused his mediation to be accepted between the Kings of 

264 ROYAL ORDINANCES. [Book II. Chap. IV. 

France and England. The former, agreeing with the popes in their de- 
signs against progress and the spirit of independence, resisted them at 
all times when the rights that they arrogated to themselves encroached 
npon those which he himself believed that he possessed, and he dared 
to take the title of King before his coronation. One of the ordinances 
Ro ai ordi- which does most honour to his memory is that by which 

nances. j^ arme( j justice against his own authority. He forbade 

Parliament to modify or to suspend its judgments in virtue of any 
order sealed with the royal seal. He had already made the Parlia- 
ment permanent, which, until then, only assembled twice in the year ? 
at Paques and Toussaint, and had established it in the ancient Palace 
of the Kings, in the city of Paris. Another ordinance, equally cele- 
brated, was issued by this prince. In order to shorten the stormy 
time which he foresaw would occur during the minority of his suc- 
cessor, he fixed the majority of the kings at fourteen years. This 
dangerous innovation was too often fatal to France. 

1380-1422] SITUATION OF FEANCE. 265 




The disasters of tlie last wars Had cut down tlie first nobility of the 
kingdom : after the defeats of Cressv and Poitiers, _.. .. 

° J ' Situation of 

amongst the great vassals of France there only remained France - 
the Dukes of Brittany and Burgundy* who lived in such state that 
they could hold up their heads with the monarch ; the royal family 
had profited by the decline of the others. Nevertheless, in spite of so 
many blows aimed at the high feudal aristocracy, the spirit of feudality 
existed still in its strength, and at the side of the monarch arose a 
new aristocracy, as formidable to the throne ; it consisted of princes 
of the royal family. They had received in apanage the states which 
the kings ought to have united to their domains, and for the most 
part they governed with harshness the people who were intrusted to 
their care. 

From the end of the last reign insurrections had broken out in 
many parts of the kingdom and in the states feudally . 

obedient to the crown of France. This agitation soon and anarchv - 
became general. The people suffered, crushed and despoiled by 
avaricious tyrants, and formidable insurrections were quenched in 

* The duchy of Burgundy, properly speaking, in 1363, at the accession of the house 
of Valois, only comprised the towns of Dijon, Beaune, Auxonne and Chatillon, with 
their territories. By his marriage with Marguerite of Flanders, heiress of Count 
Louis II., Philip the Bold received in 1384 the counties of Flanders, Artois, 
Rhetel, Nevers, and Burgundy (free county). The vast possessions of this house were 
extended still further under Charles VII. It acquired hy the treaty of Arras (1435), 
in the east of France, the counties of Macon and Auxerre, and the seigniory of Bar ; 
to the north the counties of Guignes and Ponthieu. It finally gained by succession, by 
marriages, and by purchase, Hainaut, Brabant, Limbourg, Luxembourg, the counties of 
Frise, of Zealand, of Holland, the towns of Antwerp and Malines, and the duchy of 
Gueldre. (See Hisloire des Dues de Bourgogne de la Maison de Valois, by Baron de 


streams of blood. A deep exasperation existed between the nobility 
and the inferior classes ; but the struggle was not equal : the 
nobles knew how to unite together, to bear down in a body on 
their isolated enemies, and to strike them separately. The barbarity 
and the superstition of the people arrested all their efforts to obtain a 
better destiny, and, when a stroke of fortune threw the power for 
a moment into their hands, they could not make a better use of it 
than their noble oppressors. So many causes of dissolution, united 
together, plunged France into frightful anarchy, and made the reign 
of Charles "VI. the most disastrous period in French his- 

Sad state of L 

Europe. tory. At the moment when this King, a minor, mounted 

his throne, England, submissive to Richard II., bore also the evils 
of a minority : the empire of Germany had for a chief, in Venceslas, 
son of Charles IV., a prince brutified by intemperance ; Charles the 
Bad reigned in Navarre ; Jeanne I., murderess of her husband, 
governed Naples, and two candidates for the papacy, Urban VI. and 
Clement VII., shook the Christian world by discharging at each 
other mutual anathemas. All the people suffered from frightful cala- 
mities ; but none of them were more crushed than the French people. 
Charles VI. had arrived at the age of eleven years and some 
. . . months when his father died. His three paternal 

Accession of * 

CnariesVL, 1380. u^]^ the Dukes of Anjou, Berry, and Burgundy, and 
his maternal uncle, the Duke of Bourbon, disputed among themselves 
concerning his guardianship and the regency. They agreed to eman- 
cipate the young King immediately after his coronation, which was to 
take place during the year, and the regency was to remain until that 
period in the hands of the eldest, the Duke of Anjou, the same who, 
given by his father as a hostage, fled from England, and whose 
first act was to appropriate the treasure amassed by the late King. 
Nature had endowed Charles VI. with amiable qualities ; he was bene- 
volent and full of grace and affability. His uncles vied with each other 
in stifling this happy disposition ; they were bent on persuading him 
that the most glorious triumphs for a King are those which he gains 
over his own subjects. A wise administration could have closed the 
wounds of the people. The English army conducted into Brittany 
by Buckingham was dissolved, and the sixteen millions left by 
Charles V. would have been more than sufficient to free France from 

1380-1422] NEW TAXES. 267 

tlie foreigners. But the Duke of Anjou, adopted by Jeanne of Naples 
as her successor,* and impatient to be seated on her throne, had 
received this treasure to defray the expenses of an expedition against 
Charles de Duras, his rival. He soon raised a numerous army ; it 
perished in Italy, mowed down by privations, fatigue, and disease, 
and he himself died miserably in the country which he had come to 

The beginning of this reign was signalized by popular movements. 
A report had spread about that the late King on his deathbed had 
decreed the abolition of all the taxes, and, according to the 
chronicle of Saint-Denis, each one throughout the kingdom of France 
ardently desired liberty, and thought only of shaking off the yoke of 
the taxes. Fearing an insurrection, the governing princes issued a 
decree abolishing in perpetuity the established taxes, under some 
name that had existed since the time of Philip the Fair. However, 
it was necessary to provide for the cost of the war against England, 
and for other expenses : the treasury was empty, and the revenues of 
the royal domain were very inadequate. They did not dare to convoke 
the States- General, and they could draw nothing from the assemblies 
of the nobles. It was necessary to re-establish a tax 

New t&xcs. 

upon merchandise of every kind. Immediately a for- 
midable tumult broke out ; the Parisians ran to the arsenal, where 
they found mallets of lead intended for the defence of the town, and 
under the blows from which the greater part of the 
collectors of the new tax perished; from the weapons the Maiiiotins, 

Til- n , 1380. 

used the insurgents took the name of Maiiiotins. Reims, 

Chalons, Orleans, Blois, and Rouen rose at the example of the capital. 

This prince, in favour of whom King John had newly constituted in apanage the 
duchy of Anjou, reunited to the crown by Philip VI., was the head of the second house 
of Anjou which reigned at Naples, or rather which claimed that crown. The first 
house of Anjou, founded by Charles, brother of Saint Louis, was only represented in 
1380 by Jeanne I., Queen of Naples, and by Charles de Durazzo (or Duras) of Anjou, 
her cousin. Jeanne, to the detriment of her natural heir, adopted Louis, son of King 
John ; and from that time commenced a long struggle between the second house of 
Anjou and the royal branch of Durazzo. Louis I. in 1383, and Louis II. in 1390, 
both invaded the kingdom, but neither of them could hold it. The Durazzo (or Duras) 
reigned until 1435. At this period Jeanne II. died : she was daughter and last heiress 
to Charles de Durazzo, and her succession caused a new war to break out.— See further 
forward in this volume, The State of Italy at the end of the fifteenth century (Reign of 
Charles VIII.) 

268 AVAR WITH FLANDERS. [Book II. Chap. V. 

The States- General of the Langue d'Oil were then convoked at 
Compiegne, and separated without having granted anything. The 
Parisians were always in arms, and the dnkes, powerless to make 
them submit, treated with tnem, and contented themselves with the 
offer of a hundred thousand livres. The chastisement was put off 
for a time. 

The Duke of Berry, Governor of Languedoc, then reduced the 
,, T . inhabitants of that province to despair. A crowd of 

New Jacquerie * r 

m Languedoc. wretched men, despoiled of every resource, concealed 
themselves in the forests and mountains of Cevennes, where they 
formed themselves into bands, which were known by the name of 
Tuchins, and which were, for a long period, the terror of the nobles 
and men of wealth. 

The estates of the north, held under the crown, were neither more 
peaceable nor more happy. Count Louis of Flanders, driven away 
by his people, whose municipal franchises he had violated every day, 
now burning with a desire to avenge himself, obtained the support 
of the young king, his sovereign. A numerous army of knights 
assembled together, and Charles marched at its head ; 

War with Flan- . 

ders. Battle of Clisson was appointed Constable, and the brave Sancerre 

Rosebecque, ■*■ x 

1882 - commanded under him. The French army met near to 

Rosebecque an army of fifty thousand Flemings, commanded by 
Philip Artevelt, son of the famous brewer who was leader of the 
sedition in 1336. The Flemings occupied an excellent defensive 
position ; they wished to march against the enemy, and demanded 
battle with loud cries. Artevelt, compelled to accede to this desire, 
formed all his army into a square phalanx ; all the men Avere tied 
together with cords, and he himself took his place in the midst of his 
brave men of Ghent. Then this enormous and compact mass ad- 
vanced, their pikes lowered, with a regular and firm step, and without 
uttering a word. The artillery of the King could not break this 
terrible phalanx ; the Flemings advanced, so say the chroniclers, with 
the impetuosity of wild boars. The French line recoiled ; but the 
enemy presented a smaller front than they did, and were soon sur- 
rounded on all sides. After the first shock, the two wings of the 
royal army fell, at the same moment, on this mass, which was 
incapable of deploying or defending itself; the Flemings were driven 


back upon themselves by the long lances of the knights, and thou- 
sands of men perished by suffocation without receiving a wound ; the 
carnage was frightful. Philip Artevelt perished in the fight. The 
towns of Flanders were given over by the conqueror to flames and 
pillage ; Ghent alone still resisted. Courtray, guilty only of having 
been the theatre of an ancient defeat of the French, was, by order of 
the young King, destroyed from foundation to roof, and all the 
inhabitants, without distinction of age or sex, were massacred. The 
victorious army returned to Paris ; the moment for striking the 
rebels had arrived. 

The Parisians perceived with fear that defence was impossible, and 
received the order to lay down their arms. The young King of 
fourteen years entered the town as an irritated conqueror ; refusing to 
pass through the gates, he caused a breach to be made in the walls 
of the town, and it was through it that he penetrated to the capital. 
For many days he remained silent ; Paris was in Chastisement 
anguish. At last the scaffolds were erected, and the the Parisian s. 
executions commenced ; one hundred of the richest inhabitants were 
executed, and among this number was the virtuous John Desmarest, 
advocate-general to the Parliament, whose crime con- _ ,. . 

o ' Execution of 

sisfced in being desirous to conciliate all parties. " Master John Desmai 'est. 
John," they said to him, while leading him to execution, " cry to 
the King, in order that he may pardon you." Desmarest answered, 
" I have served King Philip his grandfather, King John, and King 
Charles his father, well and loyally ; never could those three kings 
reproach me, and this monarch would not have done so if he had 
had knowledge of mankind ; to God alone I wish to cry for mercy." 
A crowd of other citizens awaited their sentences. The dukes then 
threw themselves at the feet of the King, and feigned to beg mercy 
for the town, begging him to convert the executions into fines. 
Charles listened favourably to their covetous wishes. The wealth of 
the bourgeoisie was confiscated, all the taxes were re-established, 
and Paris lost its municipal privileges, together with the right of 
electing its prevot and civil magistrates. The soldiers demolished the 
principal gates, and tore away the iron chains which served as a 
defence in all the streets. Rouen, Reims, Chalons, Troyes, Gens, 
and Orleans, were treated in a similar manner, by royal commis- 


sioners, who ordered confiscations and executions. The dukes seized 
upon all the money from the towns, and spent it in profusion, while 
the treasury remained empty. 

The revolt of Flanders was not stifled ; so many atrocities com- 
mitted by the French had excited general horror and indignation; 
the town of Ghent, which alone contained more than one hundred 
thousand souls, showed the example of perseverance and courage. 
Ackermann commanded it ; Pierre Dubois and he reanimated the 
Flemings, and allied themselves with Richard II., King of England. 
An English army, commanded by the Bishop of Norwich, descended 
upon Flanders, pillaged it, and sacked the towns, which were occu- 
pied by French garrisons contrary to the wish of their inhabit- 
ants. Charles VI. marched forward to meet the English. Flanders, 
the victim of its protectors and of its enemies, became a theatre of 
incendiarism and murder. The heroism of the men of Ghent saved 
that unfortunate country, and the two parties, gorged with booty, 
longed for peace on either side. The Count of Flanders alone, 
furious against the town of Ghent, impeded the negotiations ; while 
the Duke of Berry, impatient of all delay, stabbed the Count with 
his dagger and killed him. The death of Count Louis terminated 
the war : a truce was signed in 1384, and Flanders passed to the 
Duke of Burgundy, who had married Marguerite, heiress 

Flanders is ° J ' & ' 

transmitted to to that powerful county. Ghent submitted itself to 

the Duke of Bur- x ^ 

gundy, 1384. that prince in the following year, and preserved all its 

Hostilities commenced, during that year, between France and 
England. Charles sent an army into Scotland, under the command of 
John of Vienna, admiral of France; it disembarked near Edinburgh, 
which then barely contained four hundred houses of a rough appear- 
ance. Another army marched into Castile in order to oppose John 
of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, uncle of Richard II. , and claimant 
of the crown of that kingdom ; lastly, Charles himself, and his 
uncles, made arrangements for a descent upon England, 
descent upon Immense preparations were ordered ; in Flanders a 

England; im- 

meuse prepara- formidable army assembled, of which twenty thousand 

tions, 1386. . 

knights and as many archers formed the principal 
force ; fifteen hundred vessels had to serve for transport. It was 


desired that a town should be ready to receive the army when it 
disembarked; Olivier de Clisson, the Constable, caused one to be 
constructed, of three thousand paces in diameter, in the forests of 
Brittany ; it was capable of being taken to pieces, and would then 
form the cargo of seventy- two vessels. This enormous armament 
met at the port of Ecluse. But the King forgot himself in the midst 
of his fetes. He started, but pleasures retarded his march. He only 
came to the place of meeting at the end of November, and the Duke 
of Berry caused him to wait for a still longer period. On arriving, 
he dissuaded Charles from the expedition ; the King gave it up, 
disbanded the army, and abandoned the supplies to the Disbandi „ ot 
pillage of the chiefs. Three millions of livres were thus the army - 
lost, without profit to the nation and without profit to the King. 
The French army sent to the succour of the Scotch against England 
was beaten. That which fought in Castile was not more 
fortunate ; and shame was the only fruit of so many French in Scot- 
ambitious projects. Two years later, Charles, always and in Guiidre, ' 
enamoured of war, and directed by his uncles, sustained 
the Duke of Brabant, and made war for him, without success, against 
the Duke of Guiidre. Harassed and pursued by German marauders, 
his army returned to France in distress and burdened with 

The King at length opened his eyes ; he attended to the ancient 
counsellors of his father ; they, and amongst others, Bureau de la 
Riviere, Jean de Noviant, and the Cardinal Bishop of Laon, Pierre 
Montargis, showed him that the finances were plundered, justice 
unknown, public safety without guarantee, instruction of the young 
abandoned, the roads, the fortified places, and the arsenals falling into 
ruins for want of being repaired ; above all, they pointed out the general 
frightful state of disorder, produced by the rapacity of the princes and 
the nobles, to which they attributed, with justice, so many misfortunes. 
Charles permitted himself to be convinced, and in a great council, 
where the Cardinal of Laon requested him to exercise the royal power 
at once, without participation, he signified to his uncles that he alone 
would govern. This unexpected declaration announced a happy 
revolution for the people ; but a few days afterwards a sinister event 
struck every heart with fear : the Cardinal of Laon died from poison. 


The Duke of Burgundy immediately left for Dijon, and the Duke of 
Berry, already the murderer of the Count of Flanders, retired into 

After having borne the yoke of his uncles, of which one alone, the 
„,. v . Duke of Bourbon, deserves some esteem, Charles VI. 

llie Kinggoverns ' ' 

by himself, 1389. foo^ wise measures in the interests of the people. He 
would have done much more in the same direction if he had had 
more knowledge, and less taste for pleasure. Bureau de la Riviere, 
Lamercier, the Lord of ISToviant, Le Begue de Yilaine, all honourably 
known under the preceding reign, formed the royal council, which 
was directed by Olivier de Clisson. Soon a crowd of officers, avari- 
cious despoilers of the people, were destitute. The irritated princes 
designated under the contemptuous nickname of marmousets (little 
monkeys), ov petites gens (little women), the members 

Government of . , 1 

the Marmousets, oi the new government, which the nation received 

1389. . & 

with favour and hope. 
Charles also gave his attention to the extinction of the Grand 
Schism ; but neither of the two Popes would show himself disposed 
to sacrifice his pretensions or his rights to the interests of 
Christianity ; the efforts of the King in this respect were powerless. 
He turned his attention towards the interior of the kingdom, and 
undertook a journey to the south of France. Fetes awaited him in 
all the towns ; but the groans of the people reached him in the midst 
of his licentious pleasures. He saw Languedoc laid waste ; the 

frightful misery of that beautiful province attested to 
joimie gU of d the ^e barbarity of the Duke of Berry, his guardian. 
«iat g provinfe) Betizac, the minister of his extortions, was arrested by 
lo89 ' order of the King. A general cry was raised against 

him ; the lay judges, however, dared not condemn him, and 
sentence of death was only obtained by denouncing him in the 
Church as a heretic. Charles dismissed the Duke of Berry, his uncle, 

and afterwards freed the province from the brigands 

who infested it. Lastly, interesting himself in the 
progress of the morality of the people and in military instruction, he 
closed the gaming-houses, and opened everywhere shooting-grounds 
for the bow and the crossbow. These happy omens of a better 
future were of short duration. The Consbable de Clisson, chief of the 

1380-1422] MADNESS OF CHAELFS YI. 273 

Marmousets, in going out from the royal hotel of Saint Paul, was 
attacked and struck with many blows by brigands in the Attem ted 
pay of Montfort, Duke of Brittany, his mortal enemy. Jhe a constab?e 0f 
Clisson did not die from his wounds, and the King, in De cllsson ' 1393 - 
a, fury, swore to avenge him. He commanded the Duke to deliver up 
Craon, the chief of the assassins, who had taken refuge with him ; 
Montfort refused, and Charles marched into Brittany with an army. 
He went out from Mans, at the head of his troops, in the month of 
July, in the year 1392, and passed through a forest, when a man in 
delirium rushed before the King, seized the reins of his horse, and 
said: " O King! go not further forward ; you are betrayed ! " The 
guards removed the man ; the King kept silent and continued his 
inarch, but the words had taken possession of him. For a long time 
previously his excesses had shaken his brain. Suddenly, his lance, 
which was carried by one of his pages, struck against the helmet of 
his squire. At this noise Charles shuddered ; he turned towards the 
place, and cried out, "lam betrayed!" Then forcing his Ch ri VI 
horse into a gallop, he rushed sword in hand upon his becomes mad - 
officers, and killed those whom he could reach : he was mad. 

Then commenced the third and fatal epoch of that disastrous reign. 
The faction of the dukes again seized power : the „ .. .,, 

° r ' Faction of the 

Duke of Burgundy took possession of the right of the P rinces - Anarchy. 
royal signature and exercised sole authority; the army which 
marched into Brittany was dissolved ; the council of the King was 
broken up ; all his ministers were prosecuted and thrown into 
dungeons ; the Constable took flight, and retired into Brittany, where 
he recommenced the war against Montfort. The Parliament was 
subservient to the passions of the Duke of Burgundy ; it banished 
the Constable as a traitor, and condemned him to pay a fine of a 
hundred thousand silver marks. The Jews, wisely taken care of 
by the late monarch, always offered great resources to the state ; 
but being creditors of the nobles and charged with maledictions 
by the clergy, they were driven away. Worse than all, the princes 
caused the shooting-grounds for the crossbow to be closed, and 
opened the gambling-houses, well knowing that when one wishes 
to tyrannize over a people it is necessary to disarm it and corrupt 
it. Such were the first deeds which signalized that horrible period. 



Soon after frightful dissensions "broke out among the princes them- 

No fundamental law existed which could regulate the future of the 
monarchy and decide between so many rival pretensions. The fate 
of the state was then abandoned to a royal council,* which was 
ruled by the uncles of the King, whose barbarous avidity was too 
well known; by his wife, the Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, whom the 
people called Lady Venus {Dame Venus), a frivolous and avaricious 
princess, passionately fond of fetes and pleasure ; and, lastly, by 
the Duke of Orleans, brother of the King, who had been at first 
excluded from the government by his uncles, and who quickly 
showed himself their emulator in despotism and cupidity. Charles 
was still considered to be -reigning ; each one sought in turn to 
get possession of him, and each one watched his lucid moments in 
order to stand well in power. His flashes of reason were still 
more melancholy than his fits of delirium. Incapable of attending 
to his affairs, or of having. a will of his own, always subservient to 
the dominant party, he appeared to employ his few glimmerings of 
reason only in sanctioning the most tyrannical acts and the most 
odious abuses. It was in this manner that the kingdom of France 
was governed during twenty-eight years. 

The malady of the King was attributed to enchantment ; the princes 
and the nobles profited by this to strike those whom they wanted to 
put out of the way. Valentina of Milan, wife of the Duke of Orleans, 
was herself accused of sorcery, and taken away, under that pretext, 
from Charles, whose confidence she had gained. 

Nevertheless, the unfortunate Charles VI. attributed his disease to 

the schism which desolated Christianity, and believed 

Great Schism of himself punished by Heaven for having neglected to 

the East. State , . ... T 

of Europe and of extinguish it. Tue inflexible Pierre de Luna, who took 


the name of Benedict XIII., had replaced the anti- 

* This council, besides tlie Queen, the Duke of Orleans, the Dukes of Berry, of 
Burgundy, and of Bourbon, was composed of Charles III., King of Navarre, and of 
his brother, the Count of Mortain ; of three princes of the branch of Bourbon, of 
the Duke of Brittany, and of the Count of Alengon. In 1400, the Duke of Anjou, 
Louis II., driven from Naples, sat there with the title of King of Sicily; and in 
1404 the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, caused his two brothers to be 

1380-1422] BATTLE OF NICOPOLIS. 275 

pope Clement VII. In vain the King had recourse to prayers and 
to force in order to urge him and the legitimately elected Pope, 
Boniface IX., to a mutual cession. The obstinate Pierre de Luna 
resisted the soldiers who besieged him in his palace of Avignon, as 
he had resisted the wishes of the King, of the Sorbonne, and of the 
clergy. To so many scandals was added an invasion of Europe by 
the Turks almost as formidable as that under Abderame ; the Greek 
empire and Hungary were invaded, and the ferocious Sultan Bajazet 
boasted that he would lead his horse to eat oats in Rome upon the 
altar of Saint Peter. Sigismund, afterwards Emperor, and then King 
of Hungary, requested assistance from France. A brilliant army, the 
chosen of the youth of Prance, set out under the orders of the 
Count of Nevers, eldest son of the Duke of Burgundy ; they crossed 
the Danube and besieged ISTicopolis, in Bulgaria ; but under the walls 
of that town the Christian army was exterminated by „ ... . .... 

«/ J Battle of Nicc- 

Bajazet, and the conqueror only spared the lives of pohs ' 13S8 - 
twenty princes and high nobles, for whom he hoped to receive 
immense ransoms : that of the Count of ISTevers was two hundred 
thousand crowns, and the people of Burgundy paid it. 

The principal states of Europe were then the prey to anarchy or 
civil war ; but the unskilful chiefs who then governed Prance did not 
know how to profit by this favourable circumstance so as to maintain 
peace, then so necessary for the kingdom. England had accom- 
plished a revolution by breaking the absolute power of Richard II. 
Deposed by the Parliament, that monarch was assassinated; Here- 
ford, Duke of Lancaster,* cousin of Richard, and proscribed by 
him, reigned in his place under the name of Henry IV., and struggled 
against rebellions which sprung up incessantly. It was the in- 
terest of the council of the King of Prance to keep well with him j 
but the Duke of Orleans, whose influence increased every 

-. , ' . .. , . , , ,, . ,. Administration 

day, was bent upon exciting Jus anger by deadly insults : of the Duke of 

-> • i p Orleans. 

he broke the truce, and let loose the most frightful 
calamities upon the kingdom.. 

This prince, after the death of his uncle Philip the Bold, Duke of 
Burgundy, came up in 1404, and exercised, without curb, an absolute 

* The father of Hereford was the third son of King Edward III. Richard II. was 
the son of the eldest, the celebrated Black Prince. 

T 2 


power, and decreed an enormous tax, of which he divided the produce 
with the Queen. The misery of the people became intolerable. The 
law of taxation was exercised pitilessly upon the cottages, and even 
upon the hospitals ; the poor and the sick were violently despoiled by 
all the officers of the nobles. This law was at last suspended for four 
years by those who had most abused it. The princes dissipated the 
money of the treasury in fetes and orgies ; while the unfortunate King*, 
deserted by all, deprived of attention, devoured by vermin, and often 
famished, alone understood the evils of the people, because he partook 
of them himself, and compassionated the sufferings which he was 
unable to soothe. 

The Duke of Orleans soon met with a formidable rival in the 

new Duke of Burgundy, the same John, Count of ISTevers, 

between the who was conquered at Mcopolis, and whose audacity 

Dukes of . . l'li 

Orleans and in that deplorable expedition had bestowed on him the 

surname of John the Fearless, a vindictive, cruel, 
and ambitious prince, fatal to his race and his country. He 
arrived from his county of Flanders at the head of an army. At 
his approach the Queen and the Duke of Orleans retired to Melun ; 
but Burgundy seized the royal princes and princesses, and guarded 
them in Paris, where he nattered the popular passions, restored to 
the bourgeois their arms and their franchises, taken away since 
the sedition of 1382. His rival, on the contrary, relied on the 
aristocracy. Both of them assembled troops together, and civil war 
was on the point of breaking out. The other princes, however, 
maintained peace. On the same day the two enemies were reconciled, 
embraced, and conversed together. On the following day the start- 
ling news was spread that the Duke of Orleans was assassinated. 
,. . ,. In the evening; he went out from the hotel of the 

Assassination ° 

OrieM? u i407 f Queen, mounted upon a mule, and followed by a feeble 
escort, when, near the Barbette gate, a troop of 
brigands threw themselves upon him, crying out " To death ! to 
death!" and massacred him in the middle of the street. Terror 
reigned in the council, from which Burgundy was driven away ; he 
saved himself in the states, then he returned, followed by an army, 
and openly proclaimed himself the murderer of his enemy. 
Already his crime seemed to be forgotten • the interesting Valent.'na 

1380-1-122] THE UNDEKHAND PEACE. 277 

of Milan, widow of the assassinated prince, alone demanded ven- 
geance ; she was obliged to take to flight. John the Fearless was 
master in Paris, and he chose John Petit, a famous doctor in 
Sorbonne, to vindicate his crime before the whole court. John 
Petit maintained publicly that the Duke of Orleans was a despot, 
and that it was a duty of all men to kill tyrants. " This dis- 
course appeared very strange to .some of the nobles and priests," 
says a chronicler of the period, "but there was no one bold enough 
to speak against it except in secret." The murderer only consented 
at a later period to demand the pardon of the King and of the 
young princes of Orleans ; peace was sworn between them at 
Chartres, and the bad faith of those who signed the treaty caused 
it to receive the name of the Underhand Peace. That underhand 
same year, 1409, saw Genoa rise against the French, to eace ' 
whom it had been offered ; the French were all driven from Italy. 

A slight calm succeeded these storms. But soon the members of 
the council, jealous of the ever-increasing popularity of the Duke 
of Burgundy, and disquieted about their own safety, quitted Paris, 
and rejoined at Gien the young princes of Orleans, of whom the 
eldest married the daughter of Count Bernard of Armagnac. This 
pitiless man, who was one of the most celebrated representatives of 
the great feudal system, became the chief of a party to c . n War 
which his name was attached. An army of ferocious Burg a undians. nd 
Gascons marched under his orders, and threatened in- 1410 ' 
surgent Paris, where John the Fearless caressed the vilest populace.* 5 
Burgundy relied on the name of the King, whom he held in his 

* The reaction of 1385 had inflicted upon the high bourgeoisie wounds much more 
deep than those of 1359. The latter had simply struck at its political ambition, but 
the former had impoverished, dispersed, and deprived it of its lustre and its hereditary 
influence. The town of Paris, among others, perceived that it was declining in two 
ways : by the loss of its municipal franchises, and by the ruin of the families which had 
governed and given counsel in the days of its liberty. This lowering of the superior 
class, composed of the first merchants and the bar of the sovereign courts, had caused, 
in a degree, an intermediate class to rise — that of the richest of the men who exercised 
manual professions— a less enlightened class, grosser in manners, but to whom, however, 
the force of circumstances gave influence in the affairs of the city. From thence came 
the character of uncurbed political power, which showed itself suddenly in the Parisian 
population when, in the year 1412, having recovered its franchises and its privileges, 
it was summoned by the communes to play a political part. —A ugustin Thierry : Essai 
suv VHistoire du Tiers-Etat, chap. iii. 


power, and armed in the capital a corps of one hundred young 
butchers or horse-knackers, who, from John Caboche, their chief, took 
the name of CabocJiiens. A frightful war, interrupted by truces 
violated on both sides, commenced between the party of Armagnac 
and that of Burgundy. Both sides appealed to the English, and sold 
France to them. The Armagnacs pillaged and ravaged the environs 
of Paris with unheard-of crueltie.s, while the CabocJiiens caused the 
capital they defended to tremble. The States- General, convoked for 
the first time for thirty years, were dumb — without courage and 
without strength. The Parliament was silent, the university made 
itself the organ of the populace, and the butchers made the laws. 
They pillaged, imprisoned, and slaughtered with impunity, according 
to their savage fury, and found judges to condemn their victims. 

Nevertheless, in the midst of such an anarchy, the commissioners of 
the town and of the university laboured at the reformation of the 
abuses exposed before the last State s-General, and from their hands 
issued a code of reformed and wise laws — the first sketch of French 
judicial, administrative, and financial legislation, where the dominant 
idea was centralization, then so necessary.* Very different from the 
Celebrated r l cel^rated ordinance of 1357, equally dictated by the 
25th May 1413 e P°P u l ar spirit, this one, with the exception of the elec- 
ofdomance Caho- ^ on which it instituted for judicial offices, respected all 
the attributes of the royal power. Nevertheless, its prin- 
cipal clauses, which were declared inviolable, and presented as the 
fundamental law of the nation, only lasted a short time. The dis- 
orders which accompanied the publication of the new ordinance 
caused it to be discredited by honest citizens ; it was nicknamed the 
Ordonnance Cabocldenne. From that time it was condemned, and 
three months later it was annulled. 

The demagogues pursued their violent course. They besieged in 
his hotel the Duke of Guienne, Dauphin of France ; a popular orator, 
a surgeon, John of Troyes, overwhelmed him with reproaches and 
threats, and the favourites of the prince were massacred. The King, 
always a slave to the party which ruled near him, approved and 

* This celebrated ordinance, divided into ten chapters, treated of property, of money, 
of indirect taxation, of the treasuries during war, of the Chamber, of the Exchequer, of 
the Parliament, of justice, of chancery, of the woods and forests, and of the men-at-arms. 

1380-1422] INVASION OF THE ENGLISH. 279 

sanctioned without understanding all these excesses, which terrified 
even Burgundy himself. The reaction broke out at last. Tired of 
so many atrocities, the bourgeoisie took up arms, and shook off the 
yoke of the horse-knackers. The Dauphin was delivered by them. 
He mounted, on horseback, and, at the head of the militia, went 
to the Hotel de Yille, from which place he drove out Caboche and 
his brigands. The counter revolution was established. Burgundy 
departed, and the power passed to the Armagnacs. The princes 
re-entered Paris, and Bang Charles took up the oriflmmne (the royal 
standard of France), to make war against John the Fearless, whose 
instrument he had been a short time before. His Treaty of Arras 

■ t-> ^ i',;i ijT between Charles 

army was victorious. Burgundy submitted, and the vi. and John 

the Fearless, 

treaty of Arras suspended the war, but not the exe- 1415. 
cutions and the ravages. 

Henry Y., King of England, judged this a propitious moment to 
descend upon France, which had not a vessel to oppose the invaders. 
They disembarked without obstacle at the mouth of the Seine, and 
invested Harfleur, then a town of great maritime importance, com- 
manding the entrance to the Seine, and one of the keys of the 
kingdom. France, with its mad King, and its court T . , .. 

° ' & ' Invasion of the 

divided into hostile factions, was. without government, Tafcin?of 
and all co-operation against a foreign power was, at the Harfleur « l415 - 
outset, impossible. Harfleur, however, to which rushed a brave 
nobility, was valiantly defended, and only succumbed after a month 
of heroic defence. The inhabitants were set free on ransom, and 
expelled from the town ; and the King resolved to make the conquered 
place a town altogether English, as was the case already with Calais. 
During the siege his army had suffered enormous losses, less by the 
sword than by disease ; dysentery and fatigue had reduced it to one- 
half, and of thirty thousand men that he had brought before that 
place, not more than fifteen thousand remained. This number was 
insufficient to conquer the kingdom ; and, on the other side, part of 
the French army under the Constable d'Albret, and under the Dukes 
of Orleans and Bourbon, began to unite together in Picardy. Henry, 
placing his hope in the slow movement of a divided enemy, believed 
that he had time to reach Calais hj land, where he reckoned upon 
halting and receiving reinforcements. 


Notwithstanding the careful discipline observed by the English, the 
population, all French at heart, showed themselves hostile in all direc- 
tions. They traversed the country of Caux, harassed and decimated, 
and directed their course towards the Somme, which they crossed. 
The French army, three or four times more numerous, awaited them 
on the other side of the river, near to the village of Agincourt. There 
occurred a battle similar to those of Cressy and Poitiers. The armies- 
passed the night opposite to each other. On the side of the English, 
whose peril was imminent, everything, by order of the 
armies near to King, was said and done in subdued tones and in dark- 

Agincourt, 1415. 

ness. Amongst the French, on the contrary, great fires 
were lighted, and all was noise, agitation, and confusion. However^ 
while the French thus awaited "the perils of the morrow, they sun- 
dered the party hatreds which had for so long separated them, and 
mutually embraced each other with cordiality, each of them pardoning 
Battle of ^ e on?ences 0I * ^ ne other.* They engaged in battle at 

Agincourt. break of day. The French cavalry, restricted by want 

of space, flung themselves pell-mell upon a soil moistened by rain,, 
and, under a shower of arrows, rushed upon the sharp stakes which 
the English had planted. On seeing the ranks thus overthrown^ 
the English issued from then' fortified enclosure, and, having at 
their head King Henry V., penetrated to the middle of the second 
line of the enemy. The King of England had then run into great 
danger : twenty- eight noblemen had sworn an oath to join together 
near him, and strike the crown from his head, or to die in the attempt, 
as they did. They nearly pushed forward to the King, and one of 
them delivered so heavy a blow on his helmet that he struck off one of 
the ornaments of the crown ; but they were surrounded, overpowered 
by numbers, and perished even to the last man. The rearguard of 
the French still remained intact, but seeing the first two ranks, 
overcome, they hardly waited for the shock, but turned their bridles 
and fled. The battle was finished, when some one came to Henry V., 
and told him that the camp was attacked by a fresh army, and 
Henry, seeing the numerous prisoners that he had made, and for 
whom he expected heavy ransoms, ordered that all the captives 
should be put to death. The alarm was found to be false, but: 

* Lefevre : Saint-Henri. 

1380-1422] PROGRESS OF THE CIVIL WAR. 281 

already nearly all had perished. Extended on the field of battle 
might be seen ten thousand French, nearly all nobles, of whom a 
hundred and five bore standards, and seven were princes, together 
with the Dukes of Severs, Alencon, and Bar, and the Constable 
d'Albret. Amongst the few surviving prisoners were the Marshal of 
Boucicaut, the Counts of Eu, Yen dome, and Bichemont, and the 
Dukes of Bourbon and Orleans. The conqueror King, master of the 
sad field, cast his eyes slowly around him, and having asked the 
name of a neighbouring chateau, a voice answered, " Agincourt." 
" "Well," said he, " this battle will take the name of Agincourt, now 
and for ever." * . 

Then, more terribly than ever, civil war broke out. The Count of 
Armagnac, appointed Constable, reigned in Paris by Course of thQ 
terror only ; he caused a multitude of Burgundians to cml war - 
be drowned in the Seine, in which river he forbade the Parisians to 
bathe, in order to protect the secret of his murders. The Queen 
Isabeau of Bavaria alone could equal the authority of Armagnac ; 
she was sent into exile by her husband to Tours. Burgundy took 
away the Queen from her guardians, and proclaimed her regent. A 
short time afterwards, a bourgeois of Paris, named Perinet le Clerc, 
delivered [up one of the gates of the capital to Isle- 
Adam, an officer of John the Fearless. The Burgun- cierc takes 

, -, . -, n i'ii i Paris from the- 

dians entered into the town, from which place the Burgundians, 


Prevot Tanneguy - Duchatel carried off the young 
dauphin, Charles, the last and only surviving son of the King,, 
enveloped in his bed-clothes. The populace rose again under the 
leadership of the executioner Capeluche : they seized the Count of 
Armagnac, with his partisans, and threw them into prison. On 
Sunday, the 12th of June, 1418, the murderers rushed Massacre of the 
to the prisons at the Temple, at Saint Eloi, and the two Armagnacs, ui& 
Chatelets, and then the massacre commenced ; on the following day 
it continued in the streets and houses in the midst of Paris, and the 
very pigs were fed on human flesh. The Constable had perished, one 
of the first, and the people took a hideous pleasure in cutting from 
his corpse a large strip of skin, in order to represent the scarf of 
the Armagnacs. The Queen Isabeau, brought back by the Duke of 

* Lefevre: Saint-Remi. 


Burgundy, made her triumphal entry into the town sullied by so 
many horrors, and took in hand the sovereign authority. The faction 
of Orleans then conducted the Dauphin to Poitiers, and recognized 
him as regent. There were thus in France, in the midst of the 
calamities of a foreign war, two distinct governments more hostile 
to one another than the common enemy which infested the kingdom. 
Henry Y. pursued his ravages into the heart of the kingdom. 
He had entirely conquered Normandy ; Rouen also, 

Progress of the . ; . 

English in notwithstanding the valour of its inhabitants, sustamed 


by the heroic Alain Blanchard, had fallen into his 
power. The French princes seemed at last to perceive the necessity 
of union. The Dauphin had appointed an interview with the Duke 
of Burgundy on the bridge of MOntereau ; the Duke, after hesitating 
for a long time, presented himself, and, as he bent the knee before 

the Dauphin, Tanneguy-Duchatel struck him with an 

Assassination of m . 

John the Fear- axe upon the head, and killed him before the eyes of his 

less, 1419. r ' J 

master. Thus died by assassination John the Fearless, 
the assassin of the Duke of Orleans. This murder made peace 
impossible. Philip the Grood, the new Duke of Burgundy, in order 
to avenge his father, offered the crown to Henry Y., and the guilty 
Isabeau, unworthy queen and still more unworthy mother, negotiated 
between her unconscious husband and Henry Y. the shameful treaty 
Treat of °^ r ^ ro y es j signed in 1420, by which, in contempt of the 

Troyes, 1420. rights of the royal princes of France, the crown was 
bestowed in perpetuity on Henry and his descendants. This treaty, 
which could not come into effect until the death of King Charles YL, 
was immediately sealed by the marriage of her daughter to Henry. 
The regency of the kingdom, during the malady of the King, was to 
be entrusted to Henry Y., with the title of regent ; and he swore that 
lie would maintain the jurisdiction of the Parliament, as well as the 
rights of the peers, the nobles, the cities, towns, and communities of 
France, and to govern each kingdom according to its laws and 
customs. This treaty was received with favour by the Parisians, 
equally tired of the yokes of the Armagnacs and the Burgundians, 
states-General anc ^ was solemnly approved of by the shameful States- 
cf 1420. General, convoked in the capital and presided over by 

the King. But Henry Y. took upon himself the task of destroying 

1380-1422] COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE. 283 

the new people whom he ought to have governed, and it was through 
his cruelties that the heart of the French people was restored to the 
Dauphin. That young man, sixteen years of 'age, was declared guilty 
by the Parliament of homicide on the person of the Duke of Bur- 
gundy, and deprived of his rights to the throne. He wandered for 
a long time in the provinces of the south, flying before the English 
arms, over whom his generals obtained at Bauge, in 

° ° Victory of the 

May, 1421, a glorious but useless victory. The sudden French at Bauge, 
death of Henry V., in 1422, prepared a new destiny J^athof 
for the Dauphin. Charles VI. died shortly afterwards ; and of Henry v., 
he had occupied the throne for forty- two years. 

With this deplorable reign ended the scandals of the Great Schism 
of the East. Innocent VII., then Gregory XII., had Course and en a 
succeeded in Italy to Boniface IX. The anti-pope, gcMsm^the 
Benedict XIII., still lived, and Erance remained neutral East ' 
between him and his rival, until the cardinals of the two courts 
united together in common agreement and convoked, in _ , f 
1409, the Council of Pisa, which deposed Gregory and constSwe* 
Benedict, and proclaimed Alexander V. Alexander died, 1409-1418 - 
and was replaced by John XXIII. Lastly, the Emperor Sigismund 
convoked in 1414 the famous Council of Constance, at which there 
attended with him many princes of the empire, twenty-seven ambas- 
sadors of sovereigns, and a great number of prelates and doctors. 
The superiority of the general councils over the popes was there 
established by a celebrated decree ; John XXIII., convicted of 
enormous crimes, was deposed, and the assembly, in choosing 
Martin V. to succeed him, considered him the only legitimate Pope. 
Gregory XII. had abdicated ; the obstinate Benedict XIII. struggled 
to the death, and entrenched himself in his fortress of Peniscola in 

The Council of Constance condemned the criminal doctrine pro- 
fessed by John Petit, the apologist of the crime of John the Fear- 
less, and attempted to repair the immense injury which the schism 
had inflicted upon the Catholic religion ; but the spirit of doubt and 
of examination penetrated into all quarters. Already John Wycliffe 
had preached a reform very boldly in England, and his disciples, 
called Lollards, multiplied every day. John Huss and Jerome of 


Prague, other reformers, less bold than "Wycliffe, fixed the attention 
of Grermany. The Council of Constance caused them to he burned, 
notwithstanding the safe conduct which the former had received from 
the Emperor ; it believed that it could stifle their heresy by their 
execution ; it deceived itself. The principles established by the men 
did not die with them ; violence and treachery only engender indig- 
nation, hate, and revolt. Soon the war of the Hussites broke out, 
and was the forerunning sign of the conflagration which, in the 
following century, caused the face of the Christian world to change. 
jSTo period was more sterile in great characters and more fruitful 
in scoundrels than the reign of Charles VI. Some men, 

Celebrated men. . 

however, acquired in France a reputation worthy 01 

being transmitted with honour to* posterity. Amongst these were the 

Chancellor of the University, John Grerson, who distinguished himself 

above all by his ardent and disinterested zeal for the 
John Gerson. # . . i ~ m 

extinction of the schism, and to whom is attributed, but 

without sufficient proof, the admirable book of the Imitation; the 

Advocate- General, John Desmarets, who was borne to the scaffold as 

an accomplice in the seditions to which, on the contrary, he had 

opposed the authority of his power; the magistrate Juvenal des 

Juvenal des Ursins, father of the historian of that name, intrepid 

Ursms ' in braving the fury of the nobles and in repressing their 

criminal violences ; lastly, the great citizen, Alain Blanchard, who 

immortalized himself in the defence of Rouen, and 

Alain Blanchard. 

r y - lost his life in his devotion to France and to his King. 

The nation at this epoch did not honour itself by any useful inven- 
tion ; but at that time sprang into existence, amid streams of blood, 
playing cards and the dramatic farces of the Brethren of the Passion 
and the lawyers' clerks. 

The gloomy picture of the crimes and misfortunes of France during 
Moral conside- ^~ e hundred and fifty years from the death of Saint 
rations. Louis to that of Charles YL, fill the soul with horror 

and fear. It is, notwithstanding, fruitful in grave proofs that the 
frightful calamities had been drawn down upon their authors, whether 
they were monarchs, princes, nobles, bourgeois, or peasants, on 
account of so many acts of violence. The cruelty, the frauds, and 
the brutal despotism of some of the successors of Saint Louis^ 


.aroused the wars which desolated their kingdom and their lives ; the 
nobility, assassins and assassinated, expiated with their own blood 
that which they had shed ; lastly, the violence of the bourgeoisie as 
soon as it became powerful, the refusal of all personal sacrifice, and 
the horrible excesses of the Jacquerie, dishonoured and ruined the 
popular cause for a lengthened period of time. Centuries of mis- 
fortune taught the nation that which we ought never to forget; it 
taught them that a people cannot enjoy in peace the advantages of 
a great, strong, and free nation, until it knows how to understand 
those of union, of obedience to the laws, and of the sacrifice of 
particular interests to the general interest of the country. 





Awaking of the Nation. — Expulsion of the English. — End of the 
Hundred Years War. — Extinction of the Great Feudal 
System* in France by the Union of the Duchies of Burgundy 
and Brittany with the Crown. — First Wars with Italy. 




The Kings of France, while becoming more absolute, had lost, by 
f Fr nc ^ e a ^ nse °f power, that which had in great part made 
of Charles vn 1 their fortunes from the reign of Louis the Big to that 
U22 ' of Saint Louis. The people, crushed by taxes arbitrarily 

established, pillaged by mercenary soldiers, and oppressed by the 
nobles, who constituted the principal force of the armies, ceased to 
look upon the cause of their sovereigns as their own, and withdrew 
from them their confidence and their love. This disaffection of the 
people showed itself in numerous revolts, and aided powerfully the 
rapid success of the foreigners in the heart of the country. The 
scourges which desolated France during a century and a half, and 
which shook the monarchy, were only suspended in the course of 
the last years of Charles V. ; we have seen how they reappeared 
more terribly than ever during the long reign of his unfortunate 
son. At the end of that period the monarchy only existed in name, 
and appeared to be sinking in general dissolution. God, however, 
had better destinies in reserve for France. 

1422-1461] STATE OP FRANCE. 28? 

A central, energetic, and powerful authority was alone capable 
of striking the final blow at the feudal arrnv ; of maintaining in the 
body of the nation, in a durable manner, so many persons of different 
origin as then composed the kingdom ; and of uniting to the crown 
the states which, between the Rhine, the Pyrenees, and the ocean, 
were still separated from it. The English themselves assisted in 
re-establishing the fortunes of France. The intolerable oppressions 
which they caused to be laid upon the vanquished, and the barbarity 
of their exterminating government, united against them all the 
oppressed. A national sentiment was thus created amongst those 
who were united nnder a common misfortune, and made the people 
turn anew with hope to the prince who had been proscribed by their 
tyrants, and who alone could rescue them from a hateful yoke. 
That prince was Charles VII. From his accession to the throne 
till the total extinction of the feudal power, during a century, 
the destinies of the royal power appeared to be newly connected in 
an intimate manner with those of the nation ; and both went on 
increasing in strength and in power. 

A blind chance does not preside over the destinies of the world. 
History, which has shown to us the progress — very slow, it is true, 
but real — of humanity towards a better order of things, proves 
sufficiently the existence of a providential action in the midst of the 
innumerable calamities which we excite by our passions and our 
vices. This action of divine goodness becomes apparent when it 
assures the triumph of an apparently despairing cause, and when 
the means employed to reach the end seem altogether deprived of 
power and strength. Such was the principal sign in which must 
be recognized the assistance that God deigned to lend to France 
after the signature of the fatal treaty of Troyes. On the side of 
the foreigners there had lately been seen a victorious monarch, in 
the prime of life, master of two-thirds of the kingdom, strong in 
the assent of the States- General, and in his close union with the King 
and Queen of France. However, Henry was no more ; but still 
among the English party might be reckoned the greater part of the 
French princes, also the great vassals of the crown, the capital, and 
a numerous and well-organized army. On the other side there was 
to be seen a turbulent nobility, undisciplined captains, bands of 

288 THE EIVAL KING. [Book III. Chap. I. 

ferocious adventurers, who sought less to save the kingdom than to 
divide its spoils among§t them; lastly, a young prince of eighteen 
years, without strength of mind or character, stained with the 
suspicion of a great crime, disgraced by a decree of Parliament, 
abandoned by his father and his mother, and only reigning nominally 
over some provinces which were a prey to anarchy. But the safety 
and the destiny of France were attached to the triumph of his cause, 
and God certified it in a few years, contrary to all human fore- 
sight. : I *> 
Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI. and wife of Henry V., 
had brought into the world a son who succeeded his father in 1422, 
under the name of Henry VI. ; he was then scarcely a year old, and 
was crowned at Paris as King of France and England. 

Henry VI., 

King of France, The Duke of Bedford, eldest brother of Henrv V., 

1432. \ J 

governed the kingdom in the name of his nephew, 
and knew how to attach to himself the two greatest vassals of the 
crown, John VI., Duke of Brittany, and Philip the Good, Duke of 
Burgundy. The latter, in order to avenge more surely his father's 
assassination, bestowed the hand of his sister on the Duke of Bedford, 
and was for a long period the firmest supporter of the English in 

The Dauphin Charles, then nineteen years old, had taken, im- 
Sit ati n f mediately after the death of his father, the title of King, 

Charles vii. an( j res id e d a £ Bourges with the Queen, Marie of Anjou, 
his wife. The remains of the Armagnacs, in the provinces of the 
centre and of the south-east, only recognized his authority, and the 
people, who still remembered tho frightful excesses of that party, 
hesitated at first to declare in favour of the young prince, who was 
contemptuously designated by his enemies the King of JBoarges. 
The soldiers of the army of Charles were for the most part 
foreigners, like those of Henry VI. ; his army was composed of 
Scotch, and of ferocious Armagnacs or Gascons, for a long period 
subjects of England. His constable even, the Count of Buchan, was 
a Scotchman; and the King, surrounded by savage men, appeared 
for a long time to take as little interest as the people themselves in 
his own cause. 

The battle of Crevant-sur-Tonne, lost by his troops, and that of 


Verneuil, still more disastrous, where the Constable perished, caused 
Charles VII. to perceive the necessity of having power- Battles of 
ful supporters. He fixed his choice upon the famous Yonne, and of 

x x . Verneuil, 1424. 

Richemont, brother of the Duke of Brittany, and 
offered him the sword of the Constable. Richemont only accepted on 
condition that the Armagnacs should be driven from the court, and 
that Charles should separate himself from the assassins of John 
the Fearless. Tanneguy-Duchatel, the most powerful and the most 
guilty, left the first, and hastened by his voluntary exile the useful 
bringing together of Richemont and the King. Freed from the 
faction which had held him in guardianship, Charles ceased to be 
looked upon as the instrument of a hateful party, and appeared to 
reign himself ; but years had still to roll away before he was King 
in reality, and worthy of the devotion of his people. Character f th 
Without character and without will, incapable of any KiD £- 
serious occupation, indolent and voluptuous, he was the plaything 
and the slave of his favourites, or of all those who obtained an 
ascendancy over his mind ; and he forgot them as soon as chance or 
violence had separated them from him. He received successively from 
the hand of the Constable two favourites, the Lords of Griac and of 
Beaulieu : to each in turn he granted a blind and foolish confidence, 
and saw them without anger, one after the other, assassinated by 
that same Richemont who had placed them near him, 

Violent acts of 

but to whom the confidence bestowed on them by the the Constable 


King had given umbrage. Richemont had given a 
third favourite to the King, the Lord of La Tremouille ; but he also 
met with the fate of his predecessors, through getting out of favour 
with the Constable ; and Charles saw with indifference his court and 
his nobility divided between the two rivals. He then lingered at 
Chinon in effeminacy and pleasures, while his party was weakening 
every day, and discord reigned in his camp. Already the English 
threatened Orleans, the most important of the towns still remaining 
faithful ; they had made themselves masters of the head of the bridge 
and the outworks, notwithstanding the bravery of La Hire, of 
Xaintrailles, of Gaucourt, and above all of the famous Dunois, 
bastard son of Orleans, the last and powerless defenders of the 
French monarchy. Lastly, the defeat of the French and Scotch at 


290 JOAN OF ARC. [Book III. Chap. I. 

the battle of the Herrings * appeared to give the finishing stroke to 
Battle of the ^ ie "^ °^ ^at ^ 0wn j an( ^ ^° inflict a mortal wound upon 

Herrings, 1429. ^ e cailse f Charles. 

But in proportion with the new triumphs gained by the English, 
their yoke became more intolerable, and developed in the kingdom 
a national sentiment capable of working prodigies if ifc were set in 
action by hope and confidence. Religious enthusiasm mingled itself 
in the heart of the French, who, seeing in their misfortunes the 
chastisements of an avenging God, awaited the end of their sufferings 
from the divinity alone. 

Such were, in 1429, the sentiments of the mass of the nation, 
when a young girl of twenty years, named Joan of Arc, 

Vocation of 

Joan of Arc, born of poor parents in the village of Domremy, upon 
the frontiers of Lorraine, announced that she had re- 
ceived from Grod a mission to cause the siege of Orleans to be raised 
and to conduct the King to Reims to his coronation. She was 
beautiful, endowed with a noble and pure soul, and united much 
reason and humility to a great religious fervour. She was assured 
that interior voices had revealed to her the heavenly will, and 
Joan of Ar t requested to be led to Chinon to Charles VII. Brought 
Chmon. -^q ^ g p reserLCej s ne distinguished him, it is said, upon 

the spot, among all his courtiers, and kneeling before him, she 
repeated to him the order which she declared that she had re- 
ceived from heaven. Charles, whom she still called the Dauphin, 
caused her to be examined by prelates and matrons, in order to 
assure himself of the truth of her inspiration, and, on their report, 
placing faith in her word, he caused a complete suit of armour to 
be given to her. She wished to have a white standard sprinkled 
with fleurs-de-lis, and declared that in digging into the earth at 
Saint Catharine de Fierbois, near the principal altar, a sword 
bearing upon its blade five particular signs would be found. It was 
found there, and she made the sword her own. She did not wish to 
use it so as to kill any one, and she often said that although she 
loved her sword, she loved her standard forty times more. " I have 

* This battle received its name from a convoy of salt fish sent "by the English to those 
who were besieging Orleans. The French artillery broke open the casks in which the 
fish were contained, and the field of battle was strewed with herrings. 

1422-1461] HEE EXPLOITS. 291 

seen her," wrote one who lived at that period, u armed at all points, 
&nd all in white except the head, mount npon a great black steed, and 
then turn to the door of the church, which was near, saying in a femi- 
nine voice — ' Yon, the priests and people of the chnrch, canse pro- 
cessions to be made, and offer np prayers.' Then she turned again 
to her path, saying, ' Press forward, press forward / ' And she had 
her standard folded np, and carried by a handsome page, and bore 
her little battle-axe in her hand." * The report soon spread among 
the two armies that a being endowed with supernatural power had 
come to fight for Charles VII. ; and whilst the French saw divine 
intervention in this prodigy, the English, stricken with terror, only 
wished to recognize in it the influence of the demon. 

For her first exploit Joan, notwithstanding the strict blockade, 
conducted into Orleans an army which had left Blois. Orleans delivered 
"In five days," said she, "Orleans will be free." The 1429. 
English had encircled the town with formidable fortifications ; almost 
all of these were carried by assault by the besieged. One only 
resisted, that of Tournelles, a veritable citadel, where the enemy had 
concentrated all his forces. The French generals had decided that 
they would wait till they received reinforcements before they 
commenced the attack, and signified their resolution to the heroine. 
She answered, — " You have held your council, but the council of 
my Lord will be accomplished, while that of men will perish." She 
carried along with her the people of Orleans, and the soldiery 
followed by impulse. However, after three hours of terrible fighting, 
the assault was repulsed, and the retreat sounded. Joan was 
wounded, and fell at the foot of the parapet, but she raised herself, 
and going aside into a vineyard remained for a quarter of an 
hour in prayer. Then she rushed out anew, seized again her standard, 
and planted it upon the fortress, and in an inspired voice cried out, 
"All is yours ! enter within." Consternation and fear had seized the 
defenders; their chief, Grlasdale, perished with the elite of his soldiers, 
and the French penetrated into all parts of the conquered fortifica- 
tion. Joan, at the head of the people and of the army, re-entered 

* This letter, written by Guy de Layal, from the place which he held at the court, is 
one of the most precious monuments of the period, and one of the most perfect models 
of wit and of chivalric loyalty in the fifteenth century. 

V 2 


Orleans in the evening, to the sound of the ringing of bells and 
amid cries of triumph and joy from the delivered city. * 

Suffolk and Talbot, the English generals, had been witnesses of 
this astonishing reverse, without daring on their side to attempt 
anything to prevent it. They held a council, and raised the siege 
on the same night. From that time Joan, under the name of the 
Maid of Orleans, soon became celebrated throughout the whole 
kingdom ; France awoke, enthusiasm gained men's hearts, and a 
Awaidn"- of crowd of soldiers rushed to join the standard of Charles, 

while Bedford saw his English seized with fear. Places 
on the banks of the Loire, Jargeau, Meun, and Beaugency, were 
speedily taken ; everywhere the English fell back ; at last Joan and 

her army met thenj at Patav, in the plains of Beauce. 

Defeat of the J # J ' r 

English at Patay, La Hire and Xaintrailles, who led the advance- guard of 

1429. ' ° 

the French, immediately charged the enemy without 
permitting them to entrench themselves ; the latter were at once; 
thrown into disorder, and the victory was gained by the main body 
of the army. In vain Talbot surpassed himself; by his obstinacy he 
only rendered his defeat more sanguinary. Joan of Arc triumphed 
over that famous captain ; and then, as on other occasions, she 
compassionated the sufferings of the conquered, caused the succour 
of religion to be brought to the wounded, while she herself bestowed 
her pathetic care upon them. 

After this glorious battle, Joan of Arc went to find the King at 

Gien, and coniured him to march boldly upon Reims, 

Joan of Arc . 

conducts the King there to cause himself to be crowned, and solemnly to 

to Reims. * 

take possession of his kingdom. Charles allowed him- 
self to be persuaded, and advanced across Champagne with his army. 
Troyes, situated upon the road to Reims, closed its gates. It was in 
this town that the last treaty, so humiliating for France, had been 
signed, and they feared the vengeance of the King. The besiegers 
were short of provisions, the country round about was all ruined,, 
everything appeared desperate. The council of war wished to raise 
the siege, but Joan presented herself; the internal voices, she said,, 
had assured her that within two days the town would give itself up. 

* A fete was instituted in honour of the raising of the siege, and celehrated on the 
5 th of May, every year, at Orleans. 


The event followed the prediction : on the following day the town 
capitulated. Charles VII. went over the town in the grand panoply 
of war, and then pursued his march. Chalons opened its gates to 
him, and he arrived at last under the walls of Reims, at the glorious 
end of his journey. The Burgundian captains who commanded the 
town evacuated it without giving battle. Charles, on the 16th of 
July, made his triumphal entry, and he was crowned in the ancient 
cathedral. The Maid of Orleans placed herself near to 

Coronation of 

the King and the principal altar during the ceremony, Charles vil, 
standing erect with her standard in her hand. Her 
mission was accomplished.* 

After the coronation, Joan embraced the knees of the monarch, and 
,said to him, " Gentle King, now is the pleasure of God executed. He 
.desired that you should come to receive your coronation worthily, by 
showing that you are the true King, and he to whom the kingdom 
ought to belong. I have accomplished that which was commanded 
of me, which was to raise the siege of Orleans, and to cause the King 
to be crowned. I would now wish to go back to my father and 
mother, to take charge of their sheep and cattle." These simple and 
touching wishes were not heard favourably ; the captains of Charles 
Jiad recognized in Joan their most powerful auxiliary, and they 
prayed that she would remain with them. She consented with regret, 
but showed still the same courage in action, although not the same 
confidence in herself. She was wounded at the unfortunate siege of 
Paris, and lastly taken prisoner in a sortie, whilst heroically defending 
Compiegne, which the English and Burgundians attacked together. 
John of Luxembourg', commander of the siege, sold her 

°' & ' Joan of Arc 

to the English for ten thousand livres, and the Regent prisoner of the 

° ° English. 

Bedford caused a solemn Te Deum to be sung on that 

occasion. Then party spirit exhibited itself in its most hideous form. 

In the rage into which the English lashed themselves against the 

* The King recognized the immense services which it had pleased God 'to render to 
his cause through the feeble hands of a woman. He ennobled all the family of Joan of 
Arc in perpetuity, and, by a unique but perfectly comprehensible exception, it was said 
that nobility transferred itself to this family through females. Joan obtained a short time 
afterwards the sweetest and purest of recompenses, by the royal edict which exempted 
for ever from the land-tax the villages of Grreux and Domremy, where she was born and 
where she had passed her infancy. 

294 DEATH OF JOAN OP ARC. [Book III. Chap. I. 

woman who had made them tremble, can be recognized that merciless 
feeling, the resentment of fear and of humiliated self-respect. 

Delivered over to the Inquisition, as suspected of magic and sorcery, 
the unfortunate girl was shut up in the dungeons of Rouen, and 
there was found a Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, who, altogether 
devoted to the English by vengeance and ambition, lent to their fury 
m . . . T t his shameful ministry. The trial commenced : inn- 

Trial of Joan of J 

Arc - delities, atrocious threats, and sacrileges, everything was 

used in order to consummate the sacrifice of an heroic virgin ; and 
while the civil power and the ecclesiastical authority leagued 
together to convict Joan of imposture and alliance with the devil, 
she opposed to the subtleties of theology and the plots hatched by a 
merciless hate, the inspirations of a most open conscience, the lights 
of a righteous and superior reason, which confounded her enemies 
themselves. It was to God that she attributed all her successes. 
The bishop asked her if she was in a state of grace. Joan said, 
" If I am not, God wishes to put me into that state ; if I am, then God 
wishes that I should remain so." When interrogated as to her words 
and acts in the battles, she answered, " I said, Go boldly among the 
English; and I went myself."- — "Does God hate the English?" 
asked the bishop. — " Of the love or of the hate that God has for the 
English," she said, " I know nothing ; but I know that, with the 
exception of those that die here, all will be driven out of France." — 
" Was her hope fixed in her standard or in herself? "■ — " It is founded 
in our Lord, and not otherwise." — "Why did she carry the standard 
before the King to Beims?" — "It had been in trouble," she said, 
" and it was right that it should be held up to honour." 

So much reason and good sense did not affect her judges ; they 
had declared that God could not wish Charles VII. to triumph; 
after that, the demon alone had inspired Joan. They condemned her 
to be burnt alive. 

On the 31st of May, 1431, she was led to the place of execution, 

dressed in a long black robe. She forgot neither her King, nor France 

for which she died ; she prayed for them, and requested 

Death of Joan of 

Arc at Rouen, the prayers of all the assistants, and pardoned her 

enemies. Her youth, her tears, and the Christian words 

which fell from her lips, drew tears even from English eyes, and 


filled the minds of her judges with terror. The trouble caused by this 
frightful spectacle was such that the civil sentence was not even 
pronounced. "Lead her on! Lead her on!" said the affrighted 
bailiff to the executioner. The soldiers dragged her away and bound 
her to the post, the infamous mitre of the Inquisition was placed upon 
her head, and then the flames brightened. "Jesus!" she cried, and 
pressed to her heart a wooden cross ; then she asked earnestly that the 
crucifix from the neighbouring church should be brought to her ; she 
kissed with fervour the image of the Just One who was sacrificed for 
sinners, of the Man- God who died for the salvation of the world ; she 
invoked his name, she invoked all the angels of Paradise, where the 
saints had promised to conduct her. Perhaps then she understood at 
last the true sense of their prophetic words : " Joan, Joan, take all 
things patiently," said the voices, "and have no care for your 
martyrdom ; you will be delivered by a great victory." That victory 
was the last which broke her fetters and opened up to her heaven. 
"Jesus! " she Cried again, in the midst of the flames; then she bent 
her head, and breathed forth her innocent soul and her last sigh. 

Charles heard of her death with indifference; he did nothing to 
prevent it or to avenge it, and waited for twenty-five years before 
ordering that the memory of the heroine should be reinstated. He had 
again fallen into his culpable indolence. His favourite, La Tremouille, 
had drawn him away from warlike pursuits, and in order to preserve 
his ascendancy, kept him at the Chateau of Chinon by the attraction of 
fetes and pleasures. Charles, surrounded by his mistresses, failed 
again in his fortune, while his captains fought separately, as chiefs of 
partisans ; they received from him no order, no pay, no support, and 
submitted the country where they ruled to frightful exactions. The 
English, however, were still more odious to the people ; in vain 
Bedford, in order to hold the capital, called within its walls the young 
King Henry VI., and caused him to be crowned ; in vain he deposed 
himself from the title of regent in order to bestow it on a French 
prince, the Duke of Burgundy; the English and their allies the 
Burgundians were equally detested, and insurrections broke out in all 
parts of the kingdom. 

The most skilful of the captains of Charles, the Constable 
Richemont, fell into disgrace, was restored to favour, and commanded 


the army. About the same time, in 1435, Bedford, brother-in-law 
of the Duke of Burgundy, died, and his death broke the ties of that 
duke with England. Burgundy sacrificed at last his long resent- 
ment to the interest of France, and became reconciled to Charles VII. 
He was exempted from all vassalage during his life ; the King ceded 
„ , . . to him the counties of Auxerre and Macon, with other 

Treaty of Arras, ' 

1435, places. He promised, besides, to disavow the murder of 

John the Fearless, to deliver up its authors, and to grant an amnesty 
to all those of his subjects who had taken up arms against him. On 
these conditions Philip swore to forget the past, and signed with his 
cousin an offensive and defensive alliance in the town of Arras. The 
French were united, and the maintenance of the English dominion 
became impossible. Paris, after belonging to the crown of England 
for seventeen years, opened her gates to her King, and soon the 
English only remained in Normandy and Gruienne. 

An extraordinary and complete change was effected in the mind of 
A akin of Charles VII., and the honour was, in part, to be attri- 

Chariesvu. buted to his mistress, Agnes Sorel. A will full of 
energy had taken the place of his indolent indifference ; his frivolity 
was changed into prudence and wisdom, and his voluptuous tastes no 
longer excluded him from an active perseverance in warlike and 
political affairs. 

The French, since the union of Charles with the Duke of 
Burgundy, began to enjoy some repose ; but then, as in the time of 
Charles V., at the end of the long civil wars, bands of mercenaries, 
without pay and without employment, infested the kingdom. The 
captains of Charles VII., and amongst them the celebrated La Hire 
and Xaintrailles, for a long period accustomed to make war on their 
own account and without discipline, continued, in despite of the 
treaty of Arras, to pillage Burgundy, and gloried in the name of 
Ecorclieurs (horse-flayers), which the hatred of the people had 
bestowed on them. Charles repressed their disorders, and wished to 
prevent their recurrence. With this object he undertook a wise 
measure, which contributed powerfully to the peace of the interior 
states g n it ailc ^ ^° ^e strengthening of the royal authority. After 
Orleans, 1439. having convoked the States- General at Orleans, he 
asked and obtained from them a tax of twelve hundred thousand 

1422-1461] PERPETUAL TAX. 297 

livres for the pay of a permanent army. This tax was destined for 
the support of fifteen hundred men-at-arms, each of 

1 L Organization of 

whom was to be followed by five men on horseback, a permanent 

J army, 1439. 

a page, a cutler, and three archers. The King divided 
them into fifteen privileged companies, which he disseminated through 
all parts of the kingdom ; .each being entrusted with the charge 
of its own garrison. On their part, the soldiers could not separate 
without leave, and each captain was responsible for the pillages 
and violences of his men, who were to be in submission to the 
jurisdiction of the bailiffs and the jprevots. The pay for a man-at- 
arms and his suite was fifteen livres per month. Some years later 
Charles completed the organization of the permanent army, by 
compelling each parish to furnish, at the call of the King, a good 
infantry soldier fully equipped, and on whom the military service 
conferred several privileges, high pay, and exemption from taxes. 
These foot soldiers were called free archers. 

This reconstruction of the military system produced immense re- 
sults ; the King thus obtained an army always numerous and always 
ready to run down in mass upon all points menaced by revolt or 
war. He caused the elite of his captains and soldiers of adventure 
to enter it ; while terror restrained those who could not be admitted. 
To the States- General of 1439 must be attributed, in fact, the merit 
of this creation, for it was by them that the first necessary funds 
were granted ; however, they had only granted the tax of twelve 
hundred thousand livres for one year ; the King on his own authority 
made it perpetual. Thus was established in France, illegally, the 
direct permanent tax. Nevertheless, the people paid 
without murmuring. Besides, Charles VII. by his 1439 - 
ordinance had only made regular a state of things which already 
existed. The levy of troops had not been interrupted, and the 
prospect of being delivered from the pillage of the soldiery was 
an immense relief to the dwellers in the country. The perpetual tax 
was personal or real, according to the different provinces ; that is to 
say, either established on all the revenues of the tax-payer or only 
upon his landed property. At first it was popular, but there were 
bad readjustments of the impost, its amount was always increasing, 
and above all the innumerable immunities admitted later on in 


favour of the privileged classes rendered it hateful throughout the 
whole kingdom.* 

Crimes of every description multiplied in a fearful manner ; the 
King gave to the prevot of Paris, Robert d'Estouteville, full power 
to judge and condemn every person convicted of any crime what- 
soever. The Parliament, whose rights were forgotten, kept silence ; 
all liberty was stifled, and the kingdom given over to a despotic 
power. The people had suffered too long for want of government ; 
they had passed through a horrible anarchy, and felt the want of 
a central and vigorous authority. Commerce sprung up again, 
agriculture became flourishing, and the King was hailed as the 
restorer of order. 

However, the military aristocracy could not see, without uneasi- 
ness, the progress of the royal power. It made an insurrection 
which was called Praguerie. f In this revolt it was 

Praguerie, 1440. m 

necessary to have chiefs ; the Dauphin, who was after- 
wards Louis XI., the princes of royal blood, and the captains of the 
JEcorcheurs, offered themselves. They seized several towns and forti- 
fied places, and wished to recommence a civil war ; but the times 
were changed. Charles VII., at the head of a disciplined army, 
marched against the rebels, who one after the other submitted. 
One only remained formidable, and that was the prince who was heir 
to the crown. He retired into Dauphine, and from that time a deep 
enmity existed between father and son. 

After having pacified the interior, Charles VII., profiting by the 
civil wars which were exhausting England, tried to expel the enemy 
from the kingdom. Two great provinces, Gruienne and Normandy, 
were still under the foreign yoke. In a year, half of the fortified 
places in Normandy were reconquered. The Duke of Somerset, who 
continued to bear the title of Regent of France, vainly endeavoured 
to defend Rouen against the army of Dunois. In the following year 
the Constable Richemont and the Count of Clermont gained a 

* Refer for the taxes in France to Chap. III. ; and further on, under Charles VII. , to 
the establishment of the Court of Aides. 

t The name of Praguerie, which was given to this revolt, came from Prague, a 
town in Bohemia, then famous throughout Europe for its seditions during the war of 
the Hussites. 


sanguinary victory at Formigny, between Carentan and Bayeux. 
That battle decided the fate of the war ; all the towns 

■ _, Victories of the 

m Lower JN ormandy revolted ; Cherbourg was taken, and French at 

Formigny and 

the entire province, with its two capitals and its hundred at Castnion. 

Expulsion of the 

fortresses, was again united to France. Guienne alone English, 

' & 1550-1553. 

belonged to England. It was soon conquered by 
the victorious army ; but as soon as the expedition terminated, the 
English reappeared, and Bordeaux in receiving them within its walls, 
rendered a new campaign necessary. Talbot, then eighty years old, 
commanded the English; he attacked the French army before 
Castillon, which he besieged: a cannon-ball carried off both the 
old hero and his son. Their deaths were the signal of a complete 
defeat. The town was given up ; then Libourne, and lastly 
Bordeaux, opened their gates. Guienne was for the future French ; 
and of all its continental possessions England only preserved Calais. 
The hundred years war was finished, and a long period of 
internal quarrels and calamities commenced for England in the 
madness of Henry VI., who had just married the heroic and ambitious 
Margaret of Anjou. 

A truce had suspended the hostilities between the English and the 
French, when the Emperor Frederick III. requested the support of 
France against the republican cantons of Switzerland. The assist- 
ance of Charles VII. was equally solicited by Bene, Campai „ ns of 
Duke of Lorraine, against the free town of Metz and s^i^Smd'and 
against Toul, Verdun, and some other towns, which Lorrame ' 1444 - 
called themselves subjects of the empire. Charles VII. complied with 
these requests and sent two armies, one into Switzerland and the 
other into Lorraine. The Dauphin Louis commanded the first, which 
was composed of men of all nations, and of a band of adventurers, 
compelled to be so through the inaction caused by the treaty with 
England. This army met that of the Swiss Cantons at Saint 
Jacques, near Bale. The Swiss were then the best 

„ Battle of Bale, or 

infantry in Europe. They were armed with long pikes, Saint Jacques, 
which they wielded with as much strength as skill ; 
they had gained great victories for a century over the chivalry 
of the empire. They advanced with fury against the advance-guard 
of the French army, and threw it into disorder ; but having ventured 


imprudently to attack the main body of the army, they were in their 
turn repulsed and broken up. The Dauphin, struck with their 
bravery, made peace with them, in spite of the Emperor and the 
empire ; he desired to attach the Swiss to himself, and concluded an 
alliance with those whom he had vanquished. 

The events of the campaign in Lorraine were little decisive. The 
towns of Toul and Verdun recognized the King as their protector ; 
Metz resisted, was besieged, and bought the maintenance of its 
liberty by a contribution of war. This rapid campaign gave a proof 
of the pretensions of Charles VII. upon a portion of Lorraine, but 
there was no other important result. 

The wounds of France closed, and prosperity began to spring forth 
anew. The King had taken up the tradition of the government 
of his grandfather Charles V. ; by his care the whole administration 
was reformed. After the ordinances upon the military state, there 
Reforms in the appeared the ordinances concerning the accounts of the 
.administration, treasury, the assessment of the land-tax, and the render- 
ing of accounts. A special court was then instituted for every civil 
and criminal trial connected with the taxes ; this su- 

Royal decrees. 

preme jurisdiction, called the Court of Aides, had soon 
numerous tribunals. To this prince also belonged the honour of 
having commenced the regulation of the Customs. Until that time, 

throughout the north of France, then called the countrv 

Court of Aides. ° . J 

Regulation of of Customs, justice was only dispensed according: to a 

the Customs. ... . 

legislation which was not written. By the creation of 
the Parliament of Toulouse the King restrained the jurisdiction of 
that of Paris, which then extended itself throughout the provinces. 
Under the following reign several other parliaments were instituted, 
one of which, held at Grenoble, replaced the Delphic court. After 

having: organized the army, the treasury, and justice, 

NewParliaments. . . . 

Charles occupied himself with the Church of France. 
It was he who, in 1438, promulgated solemnly, before the French 

clergy assembled at Bourges, the Pragmatic Sanction, 
sanction, 1438. proclaiming the liberties of the Grallican Church, such 
as the council then sitting at Bale had denned. It recognized the 
superiority of the General Councils over the Pope, restricted to a 
small number the cases of right to appeal to Rome, forbade the 

1422-1461] JAQUES CKEUE. 301 

publication of papal bulls in the kingdom before being registered in 
Parliament, deprived the pontifical court of the revenue of vacant 
benefices, and entrusted the election of the bishops to the chapters, 
of the churches. 

In these works, which were so important and so diverse, the 
States- General had only a feeble part ; their last meeting had taken 
place at Orleans, in 1439, and for twenty-two years Charles did not 
convoke them ; instinctively he hated these assemblies, guilty, in his 
eyes, of having favoured the troubles of the preceding reigD, and of 
having sanctioned the shameful treaty of Troyes; but Charles was 
seconded in his work by skilful counsellors, who, for the most part,, 
had been drawn from the ranks of the bourgeoisie. The two most 
illustrious were John Bureau, master- general of ordnance, 

° _ Jacques Cceur. 

and Jacques Cceur, rendered as much celebrated by his 
prosperity as by his misfortunes. By commercial speculations in 
Europe and Asia, Jacques Cceur had acquired immense wealth, with 
which he generously supported the credit of Charles VII. That 
prince ennobled him, and named him his treasurer; it is to him 
that all the financial reforms of "that period are to be attributed. But 
the avaricious courtiers coveted his fortune and came between the- 
King and him. His wealth was soon seized and divided amongst 
those who had been appointed his judges, and amongst them was 
to be seen the man who succeeded him in his office. Accused 
of embezzlement, and deprived of all means of defence, Jacques Cceur 
was condemned without proof, and banished from the kingdom. 

Charles had become the wisest and the most powerful monarch 
in Europe, but just causes of distrust and resentment with regard 
to the Dauphin embittered his latter years. Louis, who had married 
first, Margaret of Scotland, had secondly espoused, contrary to the 
wish of his father, Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Savoy. The 
King ordered him to come and justify himself at his court, where the 
Count of Dammartin, an enemy of the prince, was all powerful. The 
Dauphin, fearing all the counsellors of his father, and ndt being able 
to obtain surety for his person, thought at first to resist with open 
force, and assembled troops ; but, soon convinced of his 

i 1 n • t ^ ^ « - " . Flight of the 

powerlessness, he took to mgnt, and sought refuge in Dauphin into 

B urgundy. 

the court of Burgundy, where he was received by Philip 

the Good and by Charles his son with honour and munificence. 


The King soon took possession of Dauphine, caused all the revenues 
to be seized, and. united that province to the states which were held 
directly from the crown. The Dauphin had implored the pardon 
of his father, but the King knew his false and perverse heart, and 
vainly requested that he would ask for pardon verbally ; unfortunately, 
a formidable example had recently increased the distrust of his son. 
The Duke of Alencon, prince of the blood royal, was accused by 
the King of treason and of complicity with England. The peers of 
the kingdom convoked for his judgment condemned him to death. 
Charles commuted the punishment, and caused the prince to be shut 
up in the tower of the Louvre ; the Dauphin declined to expose 
himself to a similar chastisement. The King, from that time, believed 
that he lived in the midst of the emissaries of his son and of their 
ambushes. Lastly, fearing that he would be poisoned by them, and 
suffering besides from an abscess in the mouth, he refused all 
Death of Charles nourishment an( i allowed himself to die of hunger. He 
vii., 1461. expired on the 22nd of July, 1461, in his fifty-eighth year. 

Some years before the death of this prince there was accomplished 
Fall of the Greek on ^ ne banks °^ ^he Bosphorus the grand catastrophe 
Empire, 1453. w hich terminated the Middle Ages. Already Bajazet, 
conqueror of the Christians afc "Nicopolis, had twice encamped before 
the gates of Constantinople. The invasion of the Mogul Tamberlane 
into the Asiatic possessions of the Turks, and the famous battle of 
Agora, where Bajazet fell into the hands of the new conqueror, alone 
saved the Greek empire, or at least retarded its fall for half a 
century. Mahomet II. achieved the work which his predecessors 
had attempted. At the head of an army of 250,000 men he besieged 
by land and by sea that illustrious capital. The cry of distress of 
the Greeks was not heard in Christendom, which was then divided 
by schisms, by revolts, and by wars. Constantinople at length 
succumbed, and its last emperor, Constantine, perished, buried 
beneath its ruins, in 1453. Greece, Epiria, Bosnia, and Servia were 
conquered ; the Isle of Rhodes alone, defended by the brave knights 
of Saint John, escaped from the infidels. 

At the moment when the Turks had established 

State of Europe . . 

at the end of the themselves m Europe in order to remain there, the 

Middle Ages. 

popedom, after an absence of seventy years, which the 
historians of the Church called the captivity of Babylon, returned 

1422-1461] CONDITION OF EUROPE. 303 

to Rome ; but it saw its spiritual prestige weakened by the scandals 
of the schism, and its temporal power incessantly shaken 
by the conspiracies of the Roman nobility and the sedi- 
tions of the populace. 

For a long time the republics of Lombardy, deprived of their 
ancient glory, had been the prey of their powerful neighbours or their 
ambitious citizens. Milan, the most illustrious, bent its head under 
the Visconti, to whom succeeded the Sforza. Florence, on its side, 
crushed by the quarrel of the Whites and Slacks, descendants of the 
Gruelphs and Ghibellines, was by degrees subdued by a race of opulent 
merchants and patrons of art, the famous Medici. Grenoa and Venice 
disputed the empire of the sea, and exhausted themselves by that 
rivalry. Naples, lastly, was conquered under the second House of 
Anjou by Alphonso V., King of Aragon and of Sicily, who received 
from the Pope, in 1473, the investiture of that new kingdom. 

The Iberian peninsula, where the Moors still held the kingdom 
of Grenada, was divided into many small states, which ain 
were always at war with one another — Portugal, Cas- Portu g al - 
tile, Navarre, and Aragon. This latter kingdom commenced to 
predominate ; it extended itself to the exterior by conquests, and, 
uniting itself with Castile by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, 
it soon formed the true kingdom of Spain. 

In the north, England, which Henry V. at the commencement 
of the century had raised to so high a fortune, exhausted 
itself under an imbecile king and a haughty queen to 
preserve its conquests by sea, while, in the heart of the country, 
already the germs of the terrible Wars of the Roses fermented. 

In Germany, the wars of the Hussites inundated Bohemia with 
blood. The Emperor Sigismund had succeeded the 

r ° Germany and 

ignoble Yanceslas, but he was powerless in trying to Hungary, 
extinguish the fire which the funeral pile of John Huss had kindled ; 
and the fierce Taborites,* commanded by Zisca, the terrible blind 
man, and by the Procope, only succumbed, after twenty years of 
struggle, under their own blows. Sigismund died in 1437, and the 
imperial crown, which encircled the head of Albert, already King of 

* The name of Taborites was given to the Hussites on account of a mountain in 
Bohemia, where their camp was established, and which they had called Tabor. 


Hungary and Bohemia and Archduke of Austria, went no longer 
to the House of Hapsburg. 

France was at peace, but she groaned under a multitude of 

torments and abuses. The new day which had already 
under Charles enlightened Italy commenced, however, to penetrate 

into the kingdom. French poetry had acquired grace 
and harmony : the lyrical verses of Charles of Orleans, the prisoner 
of Agincourt, and of King Rene of Anjou, obtained a merited repu- 
tation. Among the poets of that time may be reckoned Oliver of 
La Marche, Alain Chartiers, historiographer of France, and lastly, 
Francois Villon, who introduced the burlesque style. These men 
would without doubt have contributed to give to French poetry a 
national stamp if the greatest event of the fifteenth century had not 
turned their minds in another direction. The taking of Constan- 
tinople disseminated throughout the whole of Europe the literary 
wealth of Greece and Rome, and the powerful genius of antiquity 
placed his yoke upon the almost newly-born genius of modern 

Commerce and industry also aboiit this period made happy progress 

in France as well as in the rest of Europe. The require- 

!Prosrr6SS or 

commerce and ments of nations were better known ; they knew the value 
of the different productions, and the extent of their con- 
sumption in each country ; men who were well informed and pos- 
sessed of large capital could establish factories in all places of mer- 
chandise, and embrace Europe and Asia in commercial speculations. 
It was in this manner that Cosmo of Medicis at Florence, and Jacques 
Cceur, acquired their riches. Lastly, the time approached for the 
great discoveries which were about to make the second half of the 
fifteenth century famous, and to which the darkness of preceding 
ages gave still more brilliancy. 

" It is the distinctive character of this epoch," says an eminent 

historian, " that it was employed in order to convert 

General conside- primitive Europe into modern Europe ; in this consists 


its importance and historical interest. If we did not 
consider it from this point of view — if we only sought, above all, 
what came from it, we should not only misunderstand it, but should 
leave it promptly. Seen by itself, in fact, and in part of its results, 


it is a time without character, a time when confusion went on 
increasing without any one perceiving the causes — a time of move- 
ment without direction, of agitation without results. Royalty, 
nobility, clergy, and bourgeois, all the elements of social order, seemed 
to turn in the same circle, equally incapable of progress or rest. 
They made attempts of all kinds : all failed ; they tried to settle 
governments, to establish public liberty; they tried even religious 
reform : nothing was done — nothing was finished. If ever the 
human race appeared devoted to an agitated yet stationary destiny, 
to a ceaseless yet fruitless work, it was from the thirteenth to the 

fifteenth century Considered, on the contrary, in its 

connection with that which followed, this period is bright and 
animated ; we can discover in it a harmony, a direction, and a pro- 
gression ; its unity and its interest lie in the slow and concealed 
work which was accomplished in it."* 

* Ghiizot's Histoire Generate de la Civilisation en Europe. 


306 LOUIS XI. [Book III. Chap. II. 




Louis XI. was thirty-eight years old when he mounted the throne. 
Policy of Louis His reign formed an epoch, not only by the consider- 
able extension which the kingdom obtained under him 
and by the strengthening of the absolute power of the monarch, 
but also on account of the new tendency of European policy and 
of the powerful impulse which the character of Louis was able to 
impress upon it. The art of negotiation was up to that time 
almost unknown ; the sovereigns, governed by their blind and 
violent passions, always sacrificed to the present the interests of the 
future, and force decided everything. Policy, however, began to be 
for them an object of serious study. Louis was the first who 
converted diplomacy into a system. Endowed with a subtle and 
astute mind, he made this art the study of his whole life, and 
contributed more than any other to the substitution in politics of 
the power of intelligence for the authority of force. But he mis- 
understood all the principles of morality, and to his contempt for 
them was falsely attributed the greater part of his success. The 
policy which rests upon perfidy is as fruitful in calamities as that 
which only recognizes brutal violence as law. The custom which 
caused Louis XL to deceive always, often became fatal to him ; and 
he was indebted for the greater part of his advantages over his 
enemies neither to his falsehoods nor his treacheries. He triumphed 
over all, because he knew how to comprehend his true interests, to 
understand men, to appreciate merit and to use it, and because, em- 
bracing in his projects the future and the present, he submitted 
them nearly always to the calculations of reflection and of con- 
summate prudence. Finally, it may be said that he drew upon himself 

1461-1483] HIS FIRST ACTS. 307 

his reverses by his vices, and that he obtained his most brilliant 
successes by his intellectual qualities, when allied with wholesome 

Feudalism had regained all its power during the long anarchy of 
the preceding reigns, and Charles VII. himself, while situation of 
he held in respect the Dukes of Brittany and Burgundy 
and the Count of Anjou, the great vassals of the crown, did not 
obtain from them any pledge of obedience. The houses of these 
three princes vied with the royal house in power and in splendour. 
That of Burgundy was mistress of Burgundy, of Flanders, of the 
Low Country and of the Free County, and was the richest in Europe ; 
that of Anjou, which had lost the throne of Naples but had acquired 
Lorraine by marriage, possessed, besides, Maine and Provence, and 
enclosed the domains of the King in its vast possessions. The 
south groaned under the tyranny of the counts of Albret, of Foix, 
of Armagnac, and of a crowd of other noblemen who, for the most 
part, exercised a despotic and absolute power throughout their lands. 
The feudal system was then the greatest obstacle to the tendencies 
which drew together the people who inhabited the same soil, and 
to the healthy progress of national sentiments ; it had become at 
last the scourge of Europe, which it had saved in the tenth century. 
The glory of striking it a mortal blow belongs to Louis XI. 

This prince, who from being a fugitive became a kitig, was 
informed of the plots hatched against him in the court of his 
father, and also of the hatred which the most influential men in 
the kingdom bore him, and, according to the expression of a cele- 
brated writer, he only saw in the opening of his reign the 
commencement of his vengeance.* He believed that he had need 
of the support of the people against his enemies, and promised at 
his accession to diminish the taxes and to submit the national 
charges to the approval of the States- General. But „ . 

° rr First acts of 

his liberalities towards those whom he wished to gain LouisXL 
exhausted the treasury ; the taxes were augmented, and the States- 
General left in oblivion. Some insurrections broke out, but Louis 
knew how to suppress them. One of the first acts of his reign 
was the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction, which he decreed in 

* Montesquieu, 

x 2 


hatred of the institutions of his father ; at the end of his life, 
however, he re-established the principal dispositions. Another ordi- 
nance, apparently of futile interest, profoundly irritated the nobility. 
The King, passionately fond of the chase, and jealous of his pleasures 
as of his authority, forbade that sport in the royal forests ; and 
soon after he added to this edict others which afforded new grounds 
for discontent. Economical himself, and strict in the administration 
of finances, he did not permit them to be pillaged by the princes 
of his family. His yoke bore equally upon all ; his active vigilance 
surveyed at the same time each part of the kingdom, and he would 
not suffer any tyrant in the country but himself. 

The irritation became general ; the princes wished for apanages 
which would render them independent ; the nobles demanded dig- 
nities and gold : they wished back with all their hearts the anarchy 
of Charles VI., and leagued themselves against Louis XI. He, in 
seeking to divide his two most formidable neighbours, Francis II., 
Duke of Brittany, and the Count of Charolais, son of the Duke of 
Burgundy, excited them against himself. He had perfidiously given 
to both of them the government of Normandy, in the hope of seeing 
them dispute ; however, they united together against him. The resent- 
ment of the Count of Charolais was, however, more vehement because 
Louis had been loaded with benefits by Philip the Good, his father. 
This count, who was afterwards Charles the Bash, and one of the 
most powerful sovereigns in Europe, offered a striking contrast to 
Louis XL Violent and untamable, always governed by pride or 
ano-er, he showed himself during the whole of his life the most 
ardent and the most terrible enemy of the monarch his sovereign. 

It was around him and the Duke of Brittany that the 
Public Good, princes of the royal blood rallied, together with the 

great nobles who were discontented, in the number of 
whom must be reckoned those who had obtained more glory under 
the late King, and who had served him better*— Dunois, Saint Pol, 
Tanneguy-Duchatel, and Antoine of Chabannes, Count of Dammartin. 
They gave to their league the name of the League of the Public Good, 
Battle of Mont anc ^ pl ace( 3- a ^ their head the Duke of Berry, Charles 
lhery, 1465. f F rance) brother of the King, who claimed Normandy 

from him as an apanage. The bloody battle of Montlhery, where 

1461-1483] POLICY OF LOUIS XL 309 

Louis left the field of battle to the Count of Charolais, was soon 
followed by the rising of Normandy in favour of the princes. 

The King, seeing himself the weakest, laid down his arms and had 
recourse to negotiations. No one possessed better than he the art of 
gaining hearts by insinuating and flattering words. He feigned to 
stifle his just anger, to forget all his injuries, and signed the treaty 
of Oonflans, by which he gave Normandy to his brother, Treat f 
and satisfied the exorbitant pretensions of the princes. Conflans > 1465 - 
Louis ceded to them towns, vast domains, and governments, and piled 
up dignities upon the rebel nobles. Saint Pol was named Constable. 
But Louis only gave with one hand to take back with the other when 
the moment should arrive. He studied his enemies, and from that 
time his principal care was to gain at any price the most skilful, and 
to divide the others and crush them separately. It was thus that he 
attached to himself the Duke of Bourbon and many ministers of his 
father, among others the Chancellor, Juvenal des Ursins, and the 
celebrated Count of Dammartin. He needed the support of the 
nation, and convoked the States- General at Tours in _. . _, , . 

7 States-General of 

1468 ; however, he only had recourse to the people when Tours, 1468. 
he knew that they would have no other will than his own. Louis 
opened the States in person ; and the Chancellor, after having pointed 
out to the deputies "the great wish which the monarch had always 
and had still of augmenting and increasing the kingdom and the 
crown," spoke strongly against the enemies of the nation, who had 
caused the King's own brother to serve as an instrument for their 
ambition, and only sought to enfeeble the State by dismembering it. 
Louis was obeyed ; never did States show themselves more docile. 
They annulled, according to the wish of the King, the 
treaty of Conflans, retaking Normandy from Charles of treaty of Con- 
France, and declaring that the prince ought to consider 
himself satisfied with his income of twelve thousand livres, fixed 
by Charles VII. as the apanage of the princes of the blood royal. 
Louis, having obtained from them all that he wished, was anxious to 
dismiss them. They only remained in assembly for eight days ; and 
it was remarked, as a symptom of the progress of the bourgeoisie, 
that the three orders had voted in common This was the only con- 
vocation of the States- General under this reign. Louis XI. distrusted 
public liberty quite as much as feudal power. 


Charles of France, irritated at losing Normandy, nnited again 
New league of with the Duke of Brittany and with Charles the 

the Princes 

Rash, who had become Duke of Burgundy by the 
death of Philip the Good, his father. All three treated with England 


Treat of An- against France, and invited King Edward IV. to trans- 
cems, 1468. port an army into the kingdom. Louis foresaw their 

attack ; he marched unexpectedly against the Duke of Brittany, who, 
separated from his allies, and, seized with fear, submitted by the 
treaty of Ancenis. 

The King then sought to gain over his people ; he gave charters 
to many of the towns, protected commerce by wise ordinances, and 
reorganized the national militia of Paris, composed of all the men 
between sixteen and sixty, of whom he made a list ; it numbered 
eighty thousand men, arranged under sixteen banners, and was 
placed in possession of the right to elect its own officers. Louis 
endeavoured afterwards to find allies in the states of his most 
powerful enemy. The rich, populous, and manufacturing towns of 
Flanders were prompt to revolt against the cruel violences of the 
Duke of Burgundy, their sovereign. Ghent, Bruges, and Liege were 
distinguished amongst them for their power and their energy in 
seeking after liberty. Louis sent an emissary into the latter town, 
already irritated against the bishop, its sovereign prince, allied with 
Charles, and excited it to revolt, promising his support. In the mean- 
time, in order the better to deceive the Duke and to lull his sus- 
picions, he demanded from him a safe- conduct, obtained it, and, 
trusting too much to his own seductive manners, he went close to his 
enemy at Peronne. Scarcely had he arrived when the revolt of 
Liege broke out. Charles learnt that the populace had given itself 
up to the most horrible excesses ; that the bishop, Louis of Bourbon, 
his relation and his ally, was massacred, and that Louis XI. was the 
author of the sedition. At this news his rage knew no bounds ; he 
held the King prisoner, and threatened to kill him. Louis submitted 
Treat of Pe" ^° e verytlnng i n order to get out of his peril ; he signed 
ronne, 1468. jfc Q treaty of Peronne, which took away from him all 

sovereignty in the states of Burgundy, and gave to his brother 
Champagne and Brie as an apanage ; lastly, he oifered to the Duke 
to march in person against the revolted inhabitants of Liege. On 
these conditions he was freed ; but first, he was witness of the ruin of 

1461-1483] NEW DANGERS TO LOUIS XI. 311 

that unfortunate town which he himself had incited to rebellion ; he 
saw a part of its inhabitants massacred, and felicitated Charles on 
his frightful triumph. 

England was then desolated with the war of the Two Roses* 
Louis XL, having taken the side of the red rose, united against 
Edward IV., with his relative Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. , 
and with the famous Earl of Warwick, surname d the King -maker. 
Edward, conquered, retired to Holland, and implored the assistance 
of Duke Charles, his brother-in-law. Louis, without anxiety on 
the part of England, followed up his advantages. He convoked an 
assembly of the principal inhabitants, whom he took care to choose 
himself, says Comines, from those who would not contradict his 
wishes ; and he caused the treaty of Peronne to be annulled by 
them, under the pretext that Charles had onlv imposed _,. . . , . 

' . . . r J r The principal m- 

it upon him by causing him to break his word. Louis, theiieXyof* 1 
in. disengaging himself from his obligations, created for Perorme > 147U 
himself new dangers. Edward IV., assisted by Charles the Rash, 
had retaken his crown ; Henry "VI. and his son were „ , 

' J New dangers to 

assassinated ; the Duke of Burgundy called into France Louls XL 
the English monarch, and promised Marie, his daughter and heiress, 
to Charles of France, Duke of Guienne, who had recently received 
that province from Louis XL as an apanage. The Duke of Brittany 
renewed his intrigues ; and the Constable Saint Pol sold his services 
to the two parties, seeking to raise himself at the expense of one or 
the other. 

The King thus saw himself threatened with a new storm, when his 
brother fell ill, and died after some months of suffering. Louis was 
accused of poisoning him, and did not deny it, and _ ._ . .. . 

x ° J Sudden death to 

his memory is stained with the crime. The Duke of hls brother. 
Burgundy soon caused his troops to march into Picardy, massacred 
the inhabitants of the town of Nesle, and spread terror before his 
.steps. But the admirable defence of Beauvais, where Jeanne 
Hachette immortalized herself by her courage, arrested his army, 
while the King negotiated separately with each of the rebellious 

* This name was given to the Civil War because the two houses which contested the 
throne, those of York and Lancaster, both issuing from Edward III., bore in their 
coat of arms, the first a white rose, and the second a red rose. 


princes, and attached to himself by his liberality the two cleverest 
men of their party, the Lord of Lescun, favourite of the Duke of 
Brittany, and Philip de Comines, confidant of the Duke of Burgundy. 
The manoeuvres of Louis spread division among the chiefs of the 
league : the Duke of Brittany signed a new truce, and the Duke of 
Burgundy marched against the Constable Saint Pol, who had seized on 
his own account the town of Saint Quentin. The King took advantage 
from that moment of every opportunity to crush some of his enemies. 
He caused the Duke of Alencon to be tried and condemned to death, 
for the second time, by the Parliament of Paris. The 

Vengeance of ' J 

Louis xi. Cardinal La Balue owed his fortune to Louis XL, and 

had betrayed him ; he was shut up in an iron cage, eight feet square, 
invented by the Cardinal himself, and there he remained* a prisoner 
for ten years. Lastly, Cardinal Albi, John Goffredi, formerly Bishop 
of Arras, and a famous inquisitor in Flanders, where he had perpetrated 
atrocious barbarities, was ordered by the King to punish the guilty 
Count of Armagnac, one of the supporters of the League of the Public 
Good, and who, in marrying his own sister, had added incest to all 
his other crimes. Besieged in the town of Lectoure, he gave himself 
up to the Cardinal, who had promised hint safety for his person, and 
who caused him immediately to be stabbed before the eyes of his wife, 
who was enceinte ; he caused her to be poisoned ; "and the dreadful 
Goffredi, wishing to exterminate every witness of his perjury, gave 
orders that all the inhabitants of Lectoure should be massacred, and 
the town itself given up to the names. 

Edward IV., King of England, drawn over by the Duke of 
Brittany, was then in France with a numerous army; Charles, his 
ally, seconded him badly, and the English remained isolated in the 
kingdom. Louis XL, always more prompt to negotiate than to 
fight, gained over by his bribes the confidence of Edward, and was 
prompt in signing with him a truce of nine years. The King gave 
seventy- five thousand crowns, ready money, to Edward, 

Mercantile J "* * 

truces, 1475. an( j en g a g e d to pay sixty thousand every year until a 

projected marriage between the Dauphin and the daughter of the 
English monarch could be accomplished. Charles, abandoned by 
the English, also signed with Louis a truce for nine years. Each 
of these two enemies sacrificed on that occasion those on whom his 

1461-1483] CONQUEST OP LORRAINE. 313 

adversary wished to take vengeance : Charles delivered to the 
scaffold the Constable Saint Pol; Louis abandoned his ally, Rene, 
Duke of Lorraine, whose inheritance Charles the Rash coveted. Con- 
temporaries saw a matter of traffic only in these two truces, and they 
were called the Mercantile Truces. 

Sovereign of the duchy of Burgundy, of the Free County,* of 
Hainaut, of Flanders, of Holland, and of Ghieldre, Charles wished, by 
joining to it Lorraine, a portion of Switzerland, and the inheritance of 
old King Rene, Count of Provence, to recompose the ancient kingdom 
of Lorraine, such as it had existed under the Carlovingian dynasty; 
and nattered himself that by offering his daughter to Maximilian, 
son of Frederick III., he would obtain the title of king. 
Deceived in his hopes, the Duke of Burgundy tried means to take 
away Lorraine from the young Rene. That province was necessary 
to him, in order to ioin his northern states with those „ , „ 

' o Conquest of 

in the south. The conquest was rapid, and Nancy cSStheRasii 
opened its gates to Charles the Rash ; but it was 14/6, 
reserved for a small people, already celebrated for their heroic valour 
and by their love of liberty, to beat this powerful man. Irritated 
against the Swiss, who had braved him, Charles crossed over the Jura, 
besieged the little town of Granson, and, in despite of a capitulation, 
caused all the defenders to be hanged or drowned. At 

. Battles of Gran- 

this news the eight cantons which then composed sou and of 

° t r Morat, 1476. 

the Helvetian republic arose, and under the very 
walls of the town which had been the theatre of his cruelty they 
attacked the Duke and dispersed his troops. Some months later, 
supported by young Rene of Lorraine, despoiled of his inheritance, 
they exterminated a second Burgundian army before Morat. Charles, 
vanquished, reassembled a third army, and marched in the midst 
of winter against Nancy, which had refallen into the hands of the 
Swiss and Lorraines. It was there that he perished, betrayed by his 
mercenary soldiers, and overpowered by numbers. His corpse was 
found naked and pierced with wounds, lying in a frozen Death of Charles 

tlic Rtisli before 

pool ; u-iid the people learned with transports of delight Nancy, 1477. 
that they were freed from a tyrant as cruel as he was formidable. 

* The imperial county of Burgundy had acquired by its strong position in the 
mountains a kind of independence, from which came the name of the Free County. 

314 TREATY OF ARRAS. [Book III. Chap. II. 

At this news Louis immediately seized the duchy of Burgundy, 
and many fortified towns on the Somme, on the pretext that they 
were masculine fiefs, and he claimed the guardianship of the daughter 
of Charles, Mary of Burgundy. His cruelty excited him in propor- 
tion as his security increased. The Duke of Nemours, of a younger 
branch of the Armagnacs, formerly an accomplice of his enemies, 
was his prisoner. The Kino- caused him to be tried by 

Execution of the ... 

Duke of Ne- the Parliament, to which he added commissioners en- 


riched beforehand with the spoils of the unfortunate 
Duke. Nemours was condemned to death, and Louis ordered that 
his children should be placed upon the scaffold during the execution 
of their father and be sprinkled with his blood. He caused them 
afterwards to be thrown into dungeons, where they were subjected 
to horrible tortures. 

The perfidy and ferocity of the King raised all the new states 
which he had seized against him. Soon a powerful enemy threatened 
him. This was Maximilian of Austria, recently united to Mary of 
Burgundy, and who claimed her heritage. The bloody and in- 
Battie of Gui - decisive battle of Gruinnegate, given in 1479 by the 
negate, 1479. French to the Flemish and Burgundian troops of 
Maximilian, was followed by a long truce ; and four years later, on 
the death of Mary, young Marguerite of Austria, her daughter, 
then two years old, was promised to the Dauphin. The treaty of 
Arras, concluded by Louis with the states of Flanders and the 
Treat of Arras Emperor, confirmed to him the possession of the duchy 
uvo Burgundies °^ Burgundy, of the Free County or county of Bur- 
^?h°the crown g ,im dy, an( ^ ^ ne counties of Macon, Charolais, Auxerre, 
1482 ' and Artois. 

Old Rene of Anjou, sovereign of Lorraine and Provence and 
titular King of Naples, had died a few years before. This prince, 
whose goodness, generosity, and love of fetes had gained for him 
the name of " Grood King Bene," had for a long period abdicated 
the ducal crown of Lorraine in favour of Rene, the son of his 
eldest daughter. He left by will the rest of his estates to his nephew 
Charles of Maine, the last male scion of the second house of Anjou. 
He only survived his uncle a short time ; he died without children, 
and bequeathed his domains in France and his rights to the crown 


of Naples to Louis XI., who had already obtained from Reunion of the 

1 states of the 

the King* of Aragon, as a pledge for a loan of two hun- second house of 

s & ' . Anjou with the 

dred thousand crowns, Roussillon and Cerdagne. crown, i48i. 

However, the King was growing old, and trembled at the thought 
of dying. After having deceived every one, he sought to deceive 
himself. Free from the cares which politics had given 

Terrors and 

him, he appeared to be consumed by a fierce and gloomy superstition of 
melancholy. Shut up in his chateau of Plessis-lez- 
Tours, his ordinary residence, dreading the approach of his confidants 
and the members of his family, he redoubled his precautions and 
executions. Ten thousand mantraps were disseminated through 
the avenues of the chateau, round which wandered unceasingly 
the grand prevot, Tristan the Hermit. Every suspected man was 
hanged or drowned without trial. Scotch archers watched on the 
walls and struck fatally all those who approached within reach of 
their arrows ; and, while the neighbourhood of the royal residence 
resounded with the cries of so many victims, the monarch, whose 
fanatical devotion equalled his cruelty, multiplied his pilgrimages, 
despoiled his people in order to enrich the churches, caused relics to 
be brought at great expense from all parts, and prayed to God and the 
saints to prolong his miserable life. The Virgin, above all, was the 
object of his particular worship ; he invented for her the prayer called 
the Angelus ; he created her Countess of Boulogne ; and he did not 
meditate an act of perfidy or cruelty without having implored her 
assistance first. He was the first who bore constantly the name of 
Very Christian; and no man showed more clearly to what aberration 
a superstitious faith separated from all morality will lead. No oath 
was sacred for him unless it had been taken under the cross of 
Saint L6, which, he believed, had been made from a piece of the true 
cross. His strange superstitions were those of his time, when it 
was generally supposed that certain practical externals of devotion 
were sufficient to efface the most enormous crimes. 

This King, so much dreaded, had joined to the crown Berry, the 
apanage of his brother, Provence, the duchy of Bur- 
gundy, Anjou, Maine, Ponthieu, the counties of Auxerre, the crown under 
of Macon, Oharolais, the Free County, Artois, Marche, 
Armagnac, Cerdagne, and Roussillon.* He survived the greater 

* The seven latter provinces did not. yet remain irrevocably united with. France : one 

316 DEATH OF LOUIS XI. [Book III. Chap. II. 

part of his enemies, and when the tomb had closed over those who 
conld have destroyed his work, God, whom he had so much offended, 
did not permit him to enjoy it. He died on the 30th of Angnst, 1483, 
Death of leaving the sceptre to his yonng son, Charles. This 

Louis xl, 1843. q^h^ na( j excited his suspicions. Louis had left him in 
ignorance in order that his ambition, which he feared, might be less 
dangerous ; and he only taught him one single sentence of the Latin 
language, which was a faithful resume of his policy : — ■ 

Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare. 4 ' 

France was indebted to Louis XI. for many wise institutions, 

nearly all created with the design of centralizing the action of power 

and beating down the remainder of the feudality. To attain this 

end, he tried to establish in the kingdom uniformity of 

Ordinances of .. 

Louis xl Posts, customs, and of weights and measures ; he created 

New Parliaments. # m ' 

posts, establishing on the great roads couriers, solely 
destined to carry public news to the King, and to carry his orders ; he 
replaced the corps of free archers by Swiss corps, and some privileged 
companies by a Scotch guard. Louis XL instituted three new 
parliaments, at Grenoble, Bordeaux, and Dijon. The most remark- 
able edict of his reign is that which declared judicial offices to be 

held for life. That edict founded the independence 
Qf the judicial and the power of the parliaments, but was not inspired, 

however, by love of justice ; for no one more often than 
Louis XL had recourse in his criminal trials to commissions and to 
illegal and violent means. Under his reign legislature became a 
science ; the schools acquired new life, and letters obtained a con* 
sideration which they had not enjoyed up to that time. 

Louis sought for a long time, but in vain, to gain the hearts of the 
people by the simplicity of his manners and the familiarity of his 
conversations with men of humble condition. He was more hated 
than any of his contemporary princes ; not that they were much less 
perfidious or cruel, but they appeared to commit evil by a blind and 
brutal instinct, while Louis was ferocious in cold blood, and submitted 
crime to calculation. Jealous of all superiority, he placed round him 

part was given anew in apanage, and the other part restored to foreign sovereigns, and 
only returned one "by one to the Crown of France. 

* " He who knows not how to dissimulate knows not how to reign." 

1461-1483] INVENTION OF PRINTING. 317 

only obscure men. John Cottier, his physician ; Olivier le Dain, his 
barber ; and Tristan the Hermit, the grand prevot, whom he called 
his gossip, — these were his confidants. There had not been a great 
man during his reign ; but history has preserved to us the beautiful 
answer addressed to the King by the first president, John de la 
"Vaquerie. That magistrate, considering that a royal edict was con- 
trary to the public welfare, presented himself before Louis XI. at 
the head of his corps. " What do you wish ? " said the King to 
him. " The loss of our offices," answered La Vaquerie, "and even 
death, rather than betray our consciences." 

Printing, which was about to change the face of the world, was 
invented in Germany during this reign. That invention, of which 
many countries dispute the honour, is generally attri- _. ,. n f 
buted to John Gutenburg, of Mayence. Louis XL, at r nntin =- 
the request of two theologians, caused the first French printing press 
to be established at Sorbonne. He gave encouragement to scholars, 
founded universities, and opened manv schools of law 

... Schools. 

and medicine. The learned Philip of Comines, who 

lived for a long time in his intimacy, was the historian of his reign. 

Louis XL also protected commerce, created manufactories for 
precious stuffs, respected the value of the coinage, and „ 

r - Commerce and 

permitted the nobles to devote themselves to commerce industl T- 
without derogating from their position ; but, although he lived without 
pomp, and exercised towards himself a sordid parsimony, he exhausted 
his kingdom by gifts to those whom he wished to gain, to corrupt, 
or to maintain faithful. The taxes, which only rose in the time of 
Charles VII. to eighteen hundred thousand livres, were T , . . 

° liaising of the 

raised under his successor to four millions seven hundred taxes - 
thousand, a prodigious sum for a time when public credit did not 
exist, and when agriculture, commerce, and industry, the sources of 
public wealth, were still in their infancy. 

The principal work of Louis XL was the abasement of the second 
feudality, which had raised itself on the ruins of the - 

-i-ii i -, Abasement of 

first, and which, without him, would have replunged the nobles under 

. . r o Louis XI. 

Prance into anarchy. The chiefs of that feudality 

were, however, more formidable, since, for the most part, they 

belonged to the blood royal of Prance. Their powerful houses, 


which possessed at the accession of that prince a considerable part 
of the kingdom, were those of Orleans, Anion, Burgundy, 

Feudal houses. & ' Via 

and Bonrbon. They found themselves much weakened 
at his death, and dispossessed in great part, as we have seen in the 
history of the reign, by confiscations, treaties, gifts, or heritages. 
By the side of these houses, which issued from that of France, 
there were others whose power extended still, at this period, in 
the limits of France proper, over vast domains. Those of Luxem- 
bourg and La Marck possessed great wealth upon the frontier of the 
north ; that of Yaudemont had inherited Lorraine and the duchy 
of Bar ; the house of La Tour was powerful in Auvergne ; in the 
south the houses of Foix and Albert ruled, the first in the valley of 
Ariege, the second between the Adour and the Pyrenees. In the 
west the house of Brittany had guarded its independence ;^but the 
moment approached when this beautiful province was to be for 
ever united with the crown. Lastly, two foreign sovereigns held 
possessions in France : the Pope had Avignon and the county 
Venaissin ; and the Duke of Savoy possessed, between the Rhone and 
the Saone, Bugey and Valromey. The time was still distant when 
the royal authority would be seen freely exercised through every 
territory comprised in the natural limits of the kingdom. But 
Louis XL did much to attain this aim, and after him no princely 
or vassal house was powerful enough to resist the crown by its own 
forces, and to put the throne in peril. 

1483-1498] CHARLES VIII. 319 




Charles VIII., son and successor of Louis XI., mounted the throne 
at the age of thirteen years. He had two sisters, of whom the eldest 
was married to the Lord of Beaujeu, of the house of Bourbon. She 
had intellect, and certain traits of the character of her father, who 
had preferred her to his other children, and had specially charged 
her and her husband to direct the new King. Jeanne, his 
youngest, not favoured by nature, was married to her cousin the 
Duke of Orleans. Charles had passed a part of his solitary youth in 
the chateau of Amboise, where long illnesses had deformed his 
body. Kept by his father in profound ignorance of everything, he 
did not know how to fix his attention on anything. Incapable of 
application and of discernment, and feeling his weakness, he lived 
for a long time in guardianship, though he was fully of age when 
his father died, having attained his fourteenth year. 

Anne of Beaujeu, profiting by the influence which long custom 
had given her over her brother, preserved the guardianship of his 
person, and took possession of the power conjointly with her husband. 
This authority was soon disputed by the Dukes of Orleans and 
Bourbon, and the Count of Clermont, all three princes of the blood 
royal and chiefs of the feudal reaction. The first was heir pre- 
sumptive to the throne, and the second eldest brother of the Lord 
of Beaujeu. At last, in order to put an end. to their dangerous 
rivalries, with one accord the States-General were convoked at 
Tours. The deputies separated themselves into six com- s t ates . Generalof 
mittees under the name of the " Six Nations," France (He 1484, 
de France), Burgundy, Normandy, Aquitaine, Languedoc, and Langue- 
doil (centre province), and showed themselves in most respects 
worthy of the States of 1356 under King John. They laid their 


hands on all abuses, described all the reforms, and invoked the 
ancient French constitution, which, however, was only written in 
the hearts of men, and existed only in name. The order of the 
clergy demanded the liberties of the Grallican Church, contrary to 
the wish of the bishops ; the nobility claimed anything that could 
restore to it its ancient military importance ; the third estate 
solicited the abolition of prevotal justice, the diminution of the 
costs of law, the moderation of the tolls, and the surety of the roads ; 
then, presenting the picture of the miseries of the people, it entreated 
the King to reduce the expenses, and above all to abolish the land-tax 
(tattle), affirming that the inhabitants of many of the districts of 
France had fled to Brittany or to England. " Others," they said, 
" were dead of hunger ; others- in their despair had killed their wives 
and children and then themselves ; lastly, a great number who had 
been robbed of their cattle were themselves harnessed to the waggon 
with their children ; many, in order to escape the seizure of their 
oxen, only dared to labour in the fields by night." 

Louis XI. had stretched his jurisdiction too strongly, and the reac- 
tion broke out in every part. The whole of France, by the mouth of 
its deputies, demanded a return to the government of Charles VII. 
Emboldening themselves by degrees, the States dared to deliberate on 
the opportunity of a permanent council of guardianship, taken from 
their midst, to be charged with the direction of affairs in the name of 
the King.* However, when threatened by the princes, the States grew 
weak, and committed themselves to the wisdom of the infant prince 
to grant their requests. They named the Duke of Orleans president of 
the council, gave the second place to the Duke of Bourbon, constable, 
and gave the third to the Lord of Beaujeu ; they decided that the 

* It was in the course of this discussion that an orator, the Lord of La Roche, deputy 
of the nobility of Bui-gundy, pronounced the following words : — "Royalty is an office, 
not an inheritance. It was the sovereign people who originally created kings. The 
state is the affair of the people ; sovereignty does not belong to princes, who only 
exist through the people. Those who hold the power by force, or in any other manner, 
without the consent of the people, are usurpers of the rights of another. In case of 
minority or incapacity, public affairs return to the people, who retake them as their 
own. The people — that is, the universality of the inhabitants of the kingdom, the 
States-General — are the depositaries of the will of the kingdom. An act could only take 
the force of law by the sanction of the States ; nothing is holy, nothing solid, without 
their approval." — Journal des Etats-Generaux. 

1483-1498] LEAGUE OF THE PRINCES. 321 

States alone had the right to tax the people, ordered redactions in 
the army, and voted a tax of twelve hnndred thonsand livres for two 
years, declaring that at the expiration of that period it wonld be 
necessary to convoke them anew, in order to arrange that the tax 
should be kept np. They established these principles without taking 
any of the guarantees necessary to cause them to be observed. Soon 
the discussions degenerated into shameful quarrels concerning the 
redivision of the land-tax in the provinces. Profiting by these 
divisions and the lassitude of the deputies, the princes promised 
everything for the King, and hastened to dismiss the States. "No 
promise was kept, and none of the wishes expressed heard favourably. 
The Duke of Orleans, a young prince less occupied with business 
than pleasure, was soon removed by his sister-in-law, Anne, from 
the council, of which the deputies had named him president ; and the 
kingdom was governed by a woman, who held her title 

Anne of Beaujeu 

to power neither by the wish of the States nor the laws governs the king- 

1 J m dom. 

of the kingdom. The wisdom and vigour with which 
this princess employed the royal authority caused the people to 
forget that she had usurped it; but a. league was formed against her, 
composed of the princes of the blood roval : at their head T , , 

r x J League of the 

figured the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, the Prince Princes > U35 - 
of Orange, Philip de Comines, and the Count of Dunois, son of the 
famous bastard of that name, and the most skilful negotiator of his 
century. These confederates, less guilty in having struggled against 
the usurpation of the regency than in opening the kingdom to 
foreigners, called to their aid Maximilian of Austria, and Francis II. 
Duke of Brittany. 

That province was a prey to anarchy. The old Duke Francis II., 
nearly imbecile, reigned only in name. He had given all his con- 
fidence to the son of a tailor named Landais, whom he had made 
his treasurer and favourite. The nobles of Brittany, irritated by the 
tyrannical yoke of this parvenu, were leagued ^ together against him 
and against their duke. Anne of Beaujeu, always acting in the nam 
of the King, made an alliance with them. She united herself in a 
similar manner with Rene of Lorraine and the Flemings, who had 
revolted at this period against Maximilian of Austria, their sovereign. 

Richard III., of the house of York, then reigned in England. 



Tutor to his nephews at the death of Edward IV., he had commenced 
by contesting their birth, and then caused them to be killed. The 
Dukes of Orleans and Brittany united themselves with this monster, 
and for the price of his assistance engaged to deliver up to him 
Henry of Richmond, a prince of the royal race, and avenger of the 
Lancastrians, who was then taking* refusre on the continent. Anne of 
Beaujeu supported this prince, and furnished him with troops, with 
which he disembarked in England. Soon the battle of Bosworth, 
, where Richard III. perished, assured the throne to 

End of the War of _ r ' 

the Two Roses in ki s rival. Henry of Richmond, grandson of Owen 

England. J ' & 

Tudor and Catherine of Valois,* was recognized King 

of England in 1485. He had married Elizabeth of York, and thus 

reunited in person the risrhts of the two families 

Accession of the 

House of Tudor, between whom the kingdom had been divided for so 

1485. ° 

many years. The Wars of the Two_ Roses, or of the 
houses of York and Lancaster, ended at his accession to the throne. 
About the same time the Breton nobles triumphed. They seized 
Landais in the very chamber of their sovereign, who delivered him up 
while asking for mercy ; it was in vain : Landais was condemned to 
death and executed, and the feeble Francis II. approved of the sentence. 
Anne of Beaujeu profited skilfully by the success of her allies. 
civil war in ® ne s "°-bdued the south, and took Guienne away from the 

trance, i486. Count of Commingle, who had embraced the side of 
the princes. The latter were in consternation. Dunois reanimated 
their courage ; he addressed many princes far distant from one 
another, to whom he gave hopes of gaining the hand of the daughter 
of the Duke of Brittany, heiress of the duchy. It was thus that 
lie flattered one by one, and drew over to or maintained on his side, 
Alain d'Albret, the Lord of Beam, Maximilian of Austria, recently 
elected King of the Romans, and the powerful Yiscount of Rohan. 
However, Anne caused her brother to summon to the throne, in the 
Parliament of Paris, the leagued princes and the principal nobles of 
their party. They did not appear ; and in the month of May following 
a sentence was issued by which Count Dunois, Lescun, Count of Com- 

* Catherine, after the death of Henry V., had married, a second time, a Welsh 
gentleman named Tudor, a descendant on the female side from the third son of 
Edward III., John of Gfaunt, Duke of Lancaster. 

1483-1498] TREATY OF SABLE. 323 

minge, Philip de Comines, the Lord of Argenton, and many other 
nobles, were condemned as being guilty of high treason against the 
King. JSTo sentence was pronounced against the princes. 

Anne followed up her advantages. She entrusted the royal army 
to La Tremouille, who marched into Brittany and met 

^ . Battle of Saint 

the army of the princes near to Saint Anbin du Aubindu 

J r m Cormier, 1487. 

Cormier. Marshal de Bieux, the Lord d'Albret, and 
Chateaubriand commanded it ; the Duke of Orleans and the Prince 
of Orange were in its ranks. They engaged in battle ; it was 
gained by La Tremouille, and prepared the way for the union of 
Brittany with France. The Duke of Orleans, the Prince of Orange, 
and a great number of nobles were taken prisoners. The conqueror 
invited them to his table, and when the repast was finished two 
Franciscan monks entered the saloon. The guests were struck with 
stupefaction : La Tremouille rose and said, " Princes, I send back 
your sentence to the King ; but you, knights, who have broken 
your faith and falsified your oath of chivalry, you will expiate your 
crime with your heads. If you have any remorse in your con- 
sciences, here are two monks to confess you." The saloon resounded 
with sobs ; the knights, supplicating, embraced the knees of the 
princes, who, seized with horror, remained immovable. The con- 
demned were led out into the courtyard and put to death. The 
Duke of Orleans and the Prince of Orange were led back into 
France, where Anne held them prisoners. The treaty _ r .. g w^ 
of Sable, concluded in the same year, suspended hos- 1487- 
tilities between France and Brittany. 

The Constable, the Duke of Bourbon, was dead ; his brother, Lord of 
Beaujeu, had inherited his title and all his power. Anne, who had 
become Duchess of Bourbon, lived after the battle of Saint Aubin 
du Cormier in possession of an authority which ceased to be con- 
tested. This princess had had for a long time in view the union 
of Brittany with the crown. No project could be more useful to 
the kingdom, which was constantly in peril through 

. Death of the 

the independence of that great fief. A few months after Duke Francis n. 

Different parties 

the signature of the treaty of Sable, old Francis II. in Brittany, 
died. Charles VIII. claimed the guardianship of 
his daughters, of whom. Anne, the eldest, was scarcely twelve 

y 2 


years old. While princes and powerful nobles disputed her hand, 
many parties were formed in Brittany, where the different aspi- 
rants called for assistance from the English and Spaniards. The 
latter, sent by Ferdinand of Aragon and by the celebrated Isabella 
of Castile, opposed the pretensions of the Lord d'Albret, who was 
supported by the English. All were leagued against France, but 
very much weakened through anarchy. Such was the state of affairs 
in the duchy, when, in 1490, the young Anne of Brittany, in order 
to escape from her persecutors, consented to marry the King of the 
Romans, Maximilian of Austria. That prince was absent, and the 
marriage was only celebrated by procuration. Deceived in his hopes, 
the Lord d'Albret betrayed the Bretons, and sold to Charles YIII. 
the town of ISTantes, of which Jie Avas the governor. The King 
obtained new advantages, and soon after surprised Rennes, where 
the Duchess was, and carried her off. Then was seen accomplished 
a strange fact in the annals of history. Anne of Brittany and 
Charles VIII. were married, the former to Maximilian, and the 
latter to Marguerite of Austria, eleven years old, daughter of the 
same Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy ; but neither of the two 
marriages had been consummated. Both one and the other were 
annulled by the Church, and Charles YIII. married, in 1491, Anne 
of Brittany, who ceded to him all the rights of sove- 

Charles VIII. . . 

marries Anne of reio-nty, ^eneras'ine* herself, if she became a widoAv, to 

Brittany, who 8 ./> 8 8 8^ » . ^ 

cedes to him her marry only the heir to the kingdom. In the following; 
rights of sove- J J ° ° 

reignty over her year Charles YIII. promised solemnly to respect the 
privileges of the Bretons ; he swore that he would not 
raise any subsidy from them without the consent of the States of 
the province, that no Breton should be called into judgment except 
before the judges of his country, and that there should be no appeal 
from the Parliament of Brittany, which they called The Great Days, 
to the Parliament of Paris, except in cases of denial of justice or false 

Charles, who was twenty-two years of age, was then the most 
powerful sovereign in Europe. Since the preceding year he had 
thrown off the prudent guardianship of his sister. The first act 
of his authority was to set at liberty the Duke of Orleans, whom she 
held a prisoner in the tower of Bourges, and on whom he heaped 


proofs of his tenderness and confidence. He soon abandoned him- 
self to his chivalric ideas, and dreamed of distant enterprises and 
conquests. In order to facilitate the execution of his n . , 

^ Concessions of 

adventurous projects, he hastened to conclude with the ^^efo-n 111 ' 
principal sovereigns of Europe onerous treaties, by which soverei s us - 
he sacrificed some of the most precious acquisitions of his father. 
Maximilian of Austria, whose wife he had carried off and whose 
daughter he had repudiated, contemplated a startling vengeance. 
Charles VIII. appeased him by giving up to him, by the treaty of 
Senlis, the counties of Burgundv and Artois. The „ ; . „ .. 

'. o J Treaty of Senlis, 

King of England, Henry VII., whom he had assisted 1493 - 
in conquering his kingdom, repaid him with ingratitude, and, having 
obtained large subsidies from his people in order to make war against 
France, he besieged Boulogne with an army. Charles obtained peace 
by recognizing, in the treaty of Etaples, a debt of seven hundred 
and forty-five thousand gold crowns, payable to that avaricious 
monarch, who, according to the expression of the great Bacon, his 
historian, made his people pay for war and his enemies for peace. 
He lastly gave up, in the same hope, by the treaty of Treat f 
Barcelona, to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Barcelona > 1493 - 
Castile, vanquishers of the Moors, and conquering in Grenada, the 
counties of Boussillon and of Cerdagne, dearly purchased by Louis XI. 
In peace with the neighbouring states and with his people, Charles 
VIII. saw himself able to satisfy his passion for distant adventures 
and chivalrous conquests. Brought up in ignorance of men and 
things, possessing no historical instruction, incapable of all calcu- 
lation and of all foresight, he had only nourished his intelligence by 
reading romances of chivalry, and gave himself up to no other exercises 
than those of jousts and tournaments. His imagination, warmed by 
the recital of the exploits of Charlemagne and of the Norman 
knights, persuaded him that he was called upon to follow their 
example. He thought, they say, of conquering Constantinople; but 
bounded his ambition at first with Italy and Sicily. 

Eor a long time Italy had excited the cupidity of the French. The 
successive pretensions of the two houses of Anjou had called over, 
since the time of Saint Louis, in each generation, swarms of French or 
Provencal adventurers to that beautiful country. Thos3 who did not 

326 STATE OF ITALY. [Book III. Chap. IIL 

fall, returned covered with brilliant armour made in Lombardy, or 

with sumptuous stuffs from Florence. They boasted of the delights 

of a splendid climate, of the exquisite wines of the South, the 

wonders of industry and luxury, and of all the wealth 

State of Italy at J J 

*^ "uiof the that had tempted them. This beautiful country seemed 

loth century. x J 

an easy prey to seize, in the midst of the decadence 
and servitude of all Italy. Venice alone, with its 3,000 vessels, its 
army of condottieri well paid and well disciplined, its industry 
flourishing, and its terrible constitution, the safeguard of its liberty, 
remained independent and formidable, extending its territories from 
the frontiers of Camiole almost to those of Switzerland. 

The kings of France had never lost sight of Italy; Louis XI., 
among others, sought to obtain rights over it : it was at his instiga- 
tion that the old King of Naples,- Rene of Anjou, designated as his 
heir Charles of Maine, his nephew, to the prejudice of Rene II., 
Duke of Lorraine, son of his eldest daughter. Charles of Maine, on 
taking the title of King of Naples, named Louis, in his turn, his 
sole heir. This will was the only title on which Charles Till. 
rested his pretensions to the crown of Naples and Sicily, then 
possessed by a prince of Aragon, Ferdinand I., son of Alphonso the 


There was always in the kingdom of Naples a party favourable to 
the house of Anjou, and which was called the Angevin party. It was 
composed for the most part of barons who had revolted against the 
atrocious tyranny of Ferdinand. They appealed, uselessly, to Rene of 
Lorraine to come into the kingdom ; in place of him they addressed - 
themselves to Charles VIII., and offered to him the crown. This 
prince had still another supporter in' Italy. Louis the Moor, son of 
the great Francesco Sforza, was all-powerful at Milan. He had made 

* The Queen of Naples, Jeanne II. of Duras, had separately adopted Louis IIL, of 
the second house of Anjou, and afterwards Alphonso V., King of Aragon. Louis died 
while disputing the inheritance with the King of Aragon, and his brother Eene succeeded 
to his lights. The struggle continued between him and Alphonso, who ultimately gained 
the victory. He was the first who bore the title of King of the Two Sicilies. It was known, 
in fact, that from the time of the Sicilian Vespers, Sicily had ceased to belong to Aragon. 
At the death of Alphonso (1458), the kingdom was again dismembered. The island 
returned to Aragon, where John succeeded his brother, and Naples remained to Fer- 
dinand, a natural son of Alphonso. 

1483-1498] INVASION OF ITALY. 327 

himself master of the regency of this duchy in 1479, supplanting 
in power Bonne of Savoy, sister-in-law of Louis XI. Situationand 
and mother of the young Duke John Galeas, brutified gS ° f r ^ t ouis 
by sensual pleasures, and incapable of reigning himself. Mllan - 
Louis the Moor, uncle of John Galeas, had left to him the title and 
apparel of sovereign power ; but he held all the authority in his own 
hands. Afflicted by the divisions in Italy, he thought of uniting it 
into one body; but his genius provoked the jealous hate of all the 
sovereigns of that country. Threatened by the Venetians, and 
distrusting the new Pope, Alexander VI., who was always ready to 
sell himself to the party that offered most, he believed that he needed 
the support of the French, and called them into Lombardy. 

From that time Charles VIII. no longer hesitated ; encouraged by 
his two favourites, the Cardinal Briconnet, Bishop of Saint Malo, and 
of Vesc, Seneschal of Beaucaire, and vainly opposed hy Anne of 
Bourbon and her husband, he resolved to depart. Already he thought 
that after having conquered Italy he would, through the Pope, set 
free the Sultan Zizim, whom his brother Bajazet II., Emperor of the 
Turks, had driven from the throne, and intended with the support of 
his name to march upon Constantinople. About this time Ferdinand 
died at Naples, leaving two sons — Alphonso II., who succeeded him, 
already celebrated in his wars against the Turks ; and Frederic, to 
whom his brother entrusted the command of the Neapolitan fleet. 

It was in the month of August, in the year 1494, that the French 
army began to pass over the Alps. It was composed of 
three thousand six hundred men-at-arms, of twelve Charles vnr. for 

' Italy. First 

thousand archers or cross bowmen, eight thousand hostlllties > 1494 - 
Gascon foot soldiers armed with arquebuses, and eight thousand 
Swiss and Germans, forming in all thirty-two thousand men, acconi-„ 
panied by a formidable artillery, then the best in Europe. Italy rose 
at their approach. 

On arriving at Milan, the King saw in the citadel Duke John 
Galeas, who, nearly deprived of sense, and exhausted by his 
debauches, was sinking, attacked by a disease which poison had 
probably caused, and which shortly afterwards bore him to the tomb. 
Louis the Moor soon took the title of Duke of Milan. The French 
army continued its march across Lombardy, and arrived upon the 


territory of Florence, where some places which barred its progress 
were carried. The Swiss committed frightful barbarities there, 
massacring- all the prisoners, both inhabitants and soldiers. Terror 
went before the army. Alarmed by the recital of these atrocities, 
Peter di Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and chief of the 
Florentine republic, delivered to the French many towns and 
strong castles. The people, indignant, rose against him, while that 
young man, incapable and presumptuous, sought a refuge in Venice, 
and the Florentines believed themselves free. They hailed the 
French with acclamations as their liberators. Pisa and Florence 
opened their gates, and Charles, admitted into the towns as an ally, 
entered them as a conqueror. A stranger to the revolution that was 
being enacted around him, ignorant of the motives of the kind 
ci ri viii t rece P Jc i° n °f ^ ne people, he spoke as a master to their 
Florence, 1494. deputies, and told them in answer to their friendly 
speeches, that he did not know yet whether he would give them as 
governors the Medici or French counsellors. The indignation of 
the Florentines was at its height. "If it be so," said Peter Caponi, 
chief of the deputation, " sound your trumpets, and we will sound 
our bells." The people ran to arms : the houses and the vast palaces 
of Florence were filled with soldiers. Charles VIIL perceived the 
danger, and renounced his pretensions. He recalled Caponi, obtained 
a subsidy to help him in his enterprise, and promised to restore at 
the end of the war the fortresses delivered up by the Medici. 

Ferdinand, son of Alphonso II., charged by his father to stop the 
French, was supported neither by the Pope nor the Florentines. 
Too weak to struggle alone, he recoiled before the enemy, and 
Charles VIII. arrived almost at Home without drawing sword. 
Alphonso, whose armies melted away without fighting, reduced to 
despair, abandoned his people and his throne, and thenceforth only 
thought about his treasures and his conscience. Minister to the 
cruelties of his father, he saw arranged before him the shadows of 
his victims, and recognized the hand of God in his disasters. 
Agitated by a superstitious terror, he abdicated in. 

Abdication and 

tiight of favour of his son Ferdinand ; then he embarked with 

Alphonso II., 1495. _ 

his riches, and sailed towards Mazarra, in Sicily. There 
he shut himself up in a house of the religious Olivetans, passing his 


clays in fasting and prayers ; he died during the same year. Fer- 
dinand II. saw his army seized with fear. A sedition broke out in 
Naples. He left in order to calm it down, and entrusted his army 
to the Milanese Trivnlzio, who betrayed him, and sold the army to 
Charles VIII. Ferdinand only came back in time to be witness of this 
infamous treachery ; he returned to Naples, which shut its gates 
upon him, and embarked with his family for the island of Ischia. 
Charles VIII. arrived before Naples, all of the privi- E 
leges of which he confirmed, and made a triumphal ^Jj^f J^ 11 ' 
entry into the town. 149 °' 

The French warriors, intoxicated with their glory, thought only 
of enriching themselves promptly. Their captains had demanded 
from the King the highest dignities and the most important fiefs in the 
kingdom, and Charles refused nothing. He knew neither the names 
of the Angevin barons to whom he owed gratitude, nor those of 
the barons of Aragon, the proper treatment of whom was of great 
importance to him. He offended all, and there was scarcely a 
gentleman whom he had not thrown into the party of malcon- 
tents by a denial of justice or by some imprudent outrage. Still, 
the storm growled behind him. The powers of Europe became 
alarmed at his rapid successes. Spain, Maximilian, Venice, and the 
Pope leagued themselves secretly together against him, Europeanleague 
and the soul of this league was his ancient ally, Louis vlii 8t y$* TlQa 
the Moor. The conduct of the French in his respect 
was as injurious as it was rash. Forgetting his services, and the 
need that they still had for him, they haughtily reproached him 
with the death of John Galeas, refused to recognize his title, and the 
Duke of Orleans, invoking the rights that he held from Valentina 
Visconti, his grandmother, entitled himself the Duke of Milan. 
Louis the Moor only waited for the moment of vengeance, and 
that moment soon presented itself. Philip de Comines, ambassador 
from the King to Venice, was informed of the projects of this 
formidable league, and hastened to give a warning to the King, 
who slept upon his triumph in the midst of the most frivolous 
and foolish occupations. Charles ordered an immediate Retreatofth 
retreat, and, rejecting the offer that Ferdinand II. had French - 
made to him io hold for him in fief the crown of Naples, he named 


his relation Gilbert de Montpensier viceroy of the kingdom, and 
entrusted to him a portion of the army. 

The Duke of Orleans, whom Charles had left at Asti in order to 
preserve communications with his kingdom, had compromised by 
his imprudence the retreat of the French. Impatient to seize the 
ducal crown of Milan, he had attacked Louis the Moor, who, after 
having repulsed him, held him in blockade at ISTovarre. All Lom- 
bardy arose ; the Venetian army arrived and united itself with the 
Milanese ; Francis cli Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, commanded their 
united forces, and the retreat was cut off. The French army, very 
inferior in numbers, met them near Fornovo ; it was attacked in 
the pass of Taro, and gained a signal victory. This battle of 
Battle of FomoYo ^' orilo ^ r o, where a multitude of Italians lost their lives, 
1495, made safe the retreat of Charles VIII. The King, by 

the treaty of Verceil, made peace with Louis the Moor, and recog- 
Treaty of Verceii I1 ^ ze ^ mm as Duke of Milan, and that prince declared 
himself in return a vassal of the crown of France for 
the fief of Genoa.* 

While Charles returned to his states, ' Ferdinand and Gonzalvo of 
Cordova — the conqueror of Grenada, and the greatest captain of his 
century — attacked the French left in the kingdom of jSTaples. The 
The French lose Y ^ CGT0 Ji Gilbert de Montpensier, was compelled to 
Naples and Sicily, ev acuate the capital. He permitted himself to be shut 
up in Atella; reduced to capitulation, he with five 
thousand soldiers laid down their arms, and engaged to leave the 
kingdom after having restored all the captured places with the 
reserve of Gaeta, Venosa, and Tarentum. An epidemic cut down 
his troops ; he himself was attacked by it, and died at Pozzuolo : 
barely five hundred soldiers survived him. Charles VIII. received 
the news of these disasters at Lyons and Tours, in the midst of 
licentious fetes. He projected a second expedition, when in 1498 
Death of Charles ^ e was s ^ ruc ^ with apoplexy, in consequence of a 
viii., 149S. violent shock. He died in his chateau of Amboise, 

at the age of twenty- eight years. 

* A-ter the revolt of 1409, the republic of Genoa was given anew to France. Charles 
VIII. ceded it to the Duke of Milan ; Louis XII. recovered it ; and Francis I. lost it 


One of the distinctive traits of his character was an extreme 
kindness of disposition. " The most humane and the sweetest word 
of man that ever existed," wrote Comines, "was his; for never 
did he say to any man a thing that conld displease him." His 
incapacity was generally known, and his military successes in the eyes 
of his contemporaries were looked upon as prodigies. His gentleness 
and goodness were appreciated ; France knew that there was good in- 
tention in that which he wished to do for her, and dropped tears to 
his memory. He had in the space of two years lost three sons at 
a very early age. The Duke of Orleans, grandson of the brother 
of Charles VI., was his nearest relative. 

332 LOUIS XII. [Book III. Chap. IY. 



The Duke of Orleans was thirty-six years old wlien he ascended the 
Accession of throne nnder the name of Louis XII. He soon took 
Louis xil, 1498. the titles of King of France, of Jerusalem, and the Two 

Sicilies, and Duke of Milan, in order that there might be no 
doubt in Europe as to his pretensions with regard to Italy. The 
accession of this prince restored to the crown the apanage of 
Orleans, of which part constituted the duchy of Orleans, .the county 
of Blois, and that of Valois. Louis XII. bestowed the latter county 
in apanage on Francis, Count of Angouleme, his cousin, and who was 
his successor. He treated with kindness La Tremouille and his 
ancient enemies, saying that the King of France could forgive the 
injuries of the Duke of Orleans ; and he gave all his confidence to 
Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen, and afterwards cardinal. 

The first acts of Louis XII. were wise and useful. He diminished 
the taxes, re-established order in the finances and the administration, 
and confirmed an ordinance that the Chancellor Guy de Roquefort had 
made Charles VIII. sign, for the creation of a sovereign court or 
great council. This court, composed of the chancellor, twenty 
m , „ , counsellors, ecclesiastical or lay, and the masters of the 

The Great ' J ' 

Council. petitions of the royal mansion, was destined, said the 

King, to sustain his rights and prerogatives. It strengthened and 
adjusted the royal authority, and Louis XII. deserved the gratitude 
of the people on account of the wise reforms which it brought into 
the legislation. It restrained the abusive privileges of the university, 
by which the jurisdiction of the tribunals and the gathering of the 
taxes were continually impeded. The four faculties assembled on 
this subject, and pronounced, as customary, the cessation of the 
studies and of preaching. The King and his ministers severely 

1498-1515] HIS MARRIAGE. SSS 

reprimanded their deputies. The struggle lasted for eight months, 
after which the university submitted, and ceased to have recourse 
to that scandalous expedient. 

Queen Anne had retired into Brittany soon after the death of 
Charles VIII., her husband, and hastened to make an Marriage of the 

, „ ..,.. , IT"!- Ki "S Wlth AllUe 

act of sovereignty by issuing moneys and publishing of Brittany, 
edicts. Her duchy was about to escape from France if 
she did not espouse the King, and Louis resolved to accomplish this 
marriage. He was .married to Jeanne, daughter of Louis XI. ; and 
although there was no legal motive for a divorce, he solicited from 
Pope Alexander VI. the rupture of the first engagement, and caused 
him to be favourable by promising the duchy of Valentinois to Caesar 
JBorgia, his son. Jeanne, who lived apart from her husband, given up 
Entirely to exercises of piety, opposed conscientiously an unexpected 
resistance to a project which appeared culpable to her, and the 
scandal of a shameful trial became public. All the motives alleged 
by the King were false or deceptive ; however, the judges pronounced 
the divorce, and the dispensation for a new marriage was brought to 
Louis by Csesar Borgia, who delivered to Greorges d'Amboise the 
cardinal's hat. Louis XII. immediately married Anne of Brittany, 
and the contract proved that he had again acted more in the interest 
of his own greatness than that of France, for the duchy was not 
irrevocably united with the crown, but was declared transmissible to 
the second child of the Queen, or, in default of a second child, to her 
nearest heir. 

Soon after this union, Louis made his claims upon the Milanese 
profitable, although he could only invoke them in quality of being 
grandson of Valentina Visconti. The duchy of Milan was an 
imperial masculine fief; the rights invoked by Louis XII. were there- 
fore void. They were sustained by a powerful army, which, with the 
support of the Venetians and the Pope, subdued the Milanese in 
twenty days. Louis Sforza, or the Moor, abandoned by _ 

»> J 7 7 J Conquest of 

all, took refuge with his son-in-law, the Emperor ^e Milanese, 
Maximilian. The administration of the French at 
Milan was oppressive ; a revolt soon broke out ; Louis Sforza re- 
turned with imposing forces, and La Tremouille, at the head of a new 
army, passed into Italy. Louis the Moor was defending Novarre with 

334 WAR WITH SPAIN. [Book III. Chap. IV. 

numerous troops when La Tremouille appeared before that place. 
Swiss fought in the two armies, and composed the principal force of 
Louis ; they betrayed him, capitulated shamefully in spite of him, and 
delivered him up to the French. Louis XII. abused the rights of a 
conqueror with respect to his prisoner ; he held him until his death 
locked up iu the tower of Loches in strict captivity. Master of the 
Milanese, he assisted the Pope and Caesar Borgia in subduing the 
Romagna ; then he turned his eyes towards Naples, the ephemeral 
conquest of Charles VIII., where Frederic, in 1496, had succeeded 
his nephew Ferdinand II. 

Louis XII. was not alone in covetiug this beautiful country ; 
Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Aragon, wished for his part. In spite 
of the ties of family which united him with Frederic, the Kin< 
Treat of °^ ■^- ra o 0n acceded at Grenada to a secret treaty by 

Grenada, 1500. which Naples and the Abruzzi were chosen by France 
and the southern provinces by Spain. 

Frederic, menaced by the French armies, solicited the support of his 
relative, that same Ferdinand who had just despoiled him, and who 
hastened to send to him the celebrated Gonzalvo of Cordova. The 
latter promptly introduced the Spaniards into the principal fortresses, 
and then showed to the unfortunate Frederic, so shamefully deceived, 
^ . . the treaty of division. The war between the despoilers 

War between J x 

|P a j^ e and was the only result of this detestable conquest. The 

French and the Spaniards disputed about the revenues of 
the kingdom, and, when Gonzalvo believed that he was strong enough, 
hostilities broke out. He gained two consecutive victories, the one at 
Aubigny, in Seminara, and the other at Cerignoles, where the Viceroy 
Nemours, the last of the Armagnacs, perished, and the 

Battle of . . . 

cerignoles, French only preserved in the kingdom the single town 

of Gaeta. Louis XII. assembled three new armies, of 
which two marched upon Spain ; the third advanced towards Naples, 
when suddenly the death of Alexander VI. unsettled all Italy ; Caesar 
Borgia fell dangerously ill at the same time. The illness of Caesar 
Borgia at the moment of his father's death annulled his power and 
took from him all the fruit of his iniquitous intrigues. Louis XII. 
lost his most powerful ally in Italy in the person of Alexander VI. ; 
and the irascible Julius II., successor to the Pontiff, soon created 

1498-1515] TREATY OF BLOIS. 335 

for him in that country new perils and insurmountable obstacles. 
The French army, commanded by the Marquis of Mantua, was for a 
long time held in check by Gronzalvo on the banks of the Garillan ; 
but at last, when attacked by that great captain, it took to flight. 
Gaeta opened its gates to the Spaniards, and the French were every- 
where repulsed, in spite of the exploits of La Palisse, of Aubigny, 
of Louis d'Ars, of D'Aligre, and the heroic valour of the Chevalier 
Bayard, the most celebrated amongst these illustrious 
warriors. The kingdom of Naples was thus lost a S^Sn^dom^f 
second time to France. Naples. 

While France experienced in the exterior such great reverses, a 
greater danger threatened her in the interior. Queen Anne, an 
ambitious and haughty princess, altogether occupied with the 
interests of her family, was little affected by the grandeur and 
prosperity of the kingdom. She wished for her daughter Claude, 
heiress of the duchy of Brittany, a husband who had in per- 
spective the sceptre of universal monarchy, and destined for her 
young Charles of Austria, who was then Charles Quint. 

This prince, son of the Archduke Philip, sovereign of the Low 
Countries, inherited Spain through his mother, Jeanne the Foolish ; 
and Louis XII., by the secret treaty of Blois, ceded to him, as a 
dowry for the Princess Claude, Brittany, part of the in- . 

heritance of the dukes of Burgundy united with France, 1505- 
all his rights over the Milanese, and the kingdom of Naples. The 
King signed this treaty, which would have rendered him guilty of 
treason towards France if Louis when signing it had had the use 
of his reason ; but he was then dangerously ill at Blois : it was 
thought that his end was approaching, and the Queen, only thinking 
of her own interests, arranged immediately for her retirement into 
Brittany. Already had she embarked on the Loire with her 
treasures, when the Marshal of Grie, governor of Angers, and super- 
intendent of the education of young Francis of Angouleme, prevented 
her flight, which threatened to infringe the integrity of the king- 
dom. He caused the vessels laden with the riches of the Queen to be 
seized, and signified to her that he would arrest her if she passed 
beyond the boundary. Louis XII. recovered ; but the Marshal, accused 
of the crime of high treason against the crown for this act of firmness, 
was punished by the loss of his offices. 

336 LEAGUE OP CAMBRAY. [Book III. Chap. IV. 

Feudalism expired. However, such was still the respect for its 
customs that in the year 1505 Louis XII. did homage to the Emperor 
Maximilian for the duchy of Milan, and made him an oath of 
obedience. In the following year he received from the States- 
General assembled at Tours the surname of Father of the People? 
and was entreated by them to marry his daughter 
Princess Claude Claude to his cousin Francis, Count of Angouleme, 

with Francis of . . . . , 

Anprouieme. heir presumptive to the crown.* This request antici- 

Definite union 

of Brittany with pated the secret desire of the King, who, reproaching 

France, 1506. 

himself with the sad treaty of Blois, had already seized 
an opportunity to break it. He heard with favour the wish of the 
States, and the royal betrothals were immediately celebrated. 

Louis XII., in spite of his reverses, had always fixed his eyes on 
Italy. Genoa then was in submission to the French, who, carrying into 
that republic all the prejudices of the feudal nobility, were indignant 
at seeing the bourgeois exercising the power conjointly with the 
nobles. The latter, sustained by the French Government, insulted 
the people, and walked about with poignards upon which they had 
caused to be engraved an insulting device. The people revolted, 
took a dyer for Doge, and drove away the French, 
chastises revolted Louis XII. swore that he would have vengeance, and 

Genoa, 1507. . 

soon appeared under the walls of Genoa with a brilliant 
army. He entered, sword in hand, into the vanquished city, caused 
seventy-nine of the principal citizens together with the Doge to be 
hanged, and pardoned the others, burdening them with a tax of 
three hundred thousand florins, a sum sufficient to ruin the republic. 

Venice served as the bulwark for France against Germany, and 
had shown itself her faithful ally in the campaign of Italy. The 
King ought to have kept on good terms with Venice as much for 
policy as for gratitude ; but the hate which animated the sovereigns of 
Europe against republics stifled every other sentiment in the heart 
of Louis XII. He excited without motive the Emperor Maximilian, 
the Pope, and the King of Aragon, against the Venetians. The 
Cardinal d'Amboise was the soul of this league, known under the 
League of Ca - name 0I " ^ ne League of Cambray, a town where the 
bray, 1509. treaty of alliance was signed between those sovereigns 

and Louis XII. The French soon marched against Venice, and 

* Louis XII. had no male chill. 

1498-1515] COUNCIL OP PISA. 337 

gained the victory of Agnadel. The King, putting in practice the 
odious principles of the Florentine Machiavelli, subdued _ ... . . 

-l Jr 7 Battle of Agna- 

his enemies by terror and treated the vanquished with del > 1509 - 
pitiless cruelty. The Venetian state, as far as the lagunes, was soon 
conquered. But the design of Pope Julius II. was to make the pon- 
tifical state dominant in Italy, to free the Peninsula from the foreign 
yoke, and to constitute the Swiss guardians of its liberties. He 
had only entered with regret into the treaty of Cambrai, in order to 
subdue some places in the Romagna, and through jealousy with regard 
to the Venetian power. It was, however, only with the assistance of 
the Venetians that he could deliver Italy from its most dangerous 
enemies. He connected himself with them after their reverses, and, 
detaching himself from the League of Cambrai, he formed another, 
which he called The Holy, with the Venetians, the Swiss, and Ferdi- 
nand the Catholic. All together attacked the French ; _ _ . 

o ' The Holy 

nevertheless the latter obtained some brilliant advan- Lea & ue > 151 °- 
tages under the young and impetuous Gaston de Foix, Duke of 
Nemours, nephew of the King, who achieved three victories in three 
months. The glorious battle of Ravenna, where this hero of twenty- 
three years, " a great captain before he had been a ' ... , „ 

•r 7 -o r Battle of Raven- 

soldier,"* perished, dying at the moment of his triumph, na > 1512 - 
was the end of the successes of Louis XII. in Italy. 

A council held at Pisa by some schismatic cardinals, partisans 
of the king of France and the emperor, had suspended c 
the authority of the Pope. Louis XII. , in spite of the 1511 - 
scruples of his conscience and the profound discredit which fell 
upon this council, had caused its declaration to be published in 
France, in the hope of compelling the Pontiff to sue for peace. 
The inflexible Julius II. responded to this boldness on the part of 
the King by signing the Holy League, and by convoking the council 
of Lateran, where eighty-three bishops from all parts of Christendom 
recognised him as head of the Church. New disasters for France 
marked out the course of that year, Genoa revolted, and elected as 
doge Janus Fregosi, proscribed by the French. Ferdinand the 
Catholic conquered Navarre, where the house of Albret, an ally of 
France, reigned. Julius II., however, did not enjoy for any length. 

* Gfuicciardini. 


of time the disgrace of Louis. He died in 1513 ; and the cardinal 
de Medici, as great an enemy of France, succeeded him, under the 
name of Leo X. Taught by experience, Louis XII. at last became 
reconciled with Venice, and united himself with that republic by 
the treaty of Orthez, while the Emperor Maximilian, Henry VIII. 
king of England, Ferdinand the Catholic and the Pope formed 
T , the coalition called the League of Malines against him. 

League of a o 

Maimes, 1513. ^ a Tremouille conducted into Lombardy a French army, 
which was defeated by the Swiss at ISTovara : it recrossed the 
Alps, abandoning the Venetians to themselves, and Italy was lost 
for ever. 

The English army then gained in Artois the battle of Gruinegate, 
known in history under the name of' the Journee des ej>erons 
(Battle of the spurs) on account of the complete rout of the French 
Battle of Guine- -^ 0Ya l troops. The most illustrious captains, and 
gate, 1513. among others La Palisse, Bussy d'Amboise, and the 

Chevalier Bayard, were taken prisoners. Pressed at the same 
time by the Swiss, who beseiged Dijon, by the Spaniards, and by 
the English ; deprived of his ally by the death of James IV. King 
of Scotland, killed at the battle of Flodden ; and lastly, tormented 
by his conscience, Louis XII. renounced the schism, abandoned 
the Council of Pisa, removed to Lyons, and signed, in 1514, a truce 
at Orleans with the Pope and all his powerful enemies. 
Hostilities ^ke cos * an( ^ ^ e misfortunes of so many wars had ■ 

truce of e o5eans e com P ene d the King to increase the taxes, to reclaim 
1514, his gratuitous gifts, and alienate his domain. Queen 

Anne was no more, and in order to insure peace between England 
and France, Louis demanded and obtained in marriage the hand of 
Mary, sister to Henry VIII., engaging himself to pay during ten 
years a hundred thousand crowns per annum to the English 
monarch. This marriage between a young princess of sixteen 
Death of Lo xi y ears an ^ a man of fifty- three, exhausted and sickly, 
xil, 1515. wag f a tal to Louis XII. He died, without leaving a 

son, on January 1, 1515, a few months after the celebration of his 

Many brilliant sayings and traits of courage are narrated of this 
prince. At the battle of Agnadel, when the Venetian artillery was 

1498-1515] CHARACTER OF LOUIS XII. 339 

directed towards the position where lie was, it was said to him that he 
exposed himself too much. " Not at all," said he, " I have 
no fear; but whosoever is afraid, let him put himself 
behind me."* Louis XII. loved the people, and sustained without 
prodigality the dignity of his crown. He was economical ; his court 
accused him of being avaricious, and caused him to be represented 
as such on the stage. He heard of it without anger : "I like better," 
he said, "to see my courtiers laughing at my avarice than to see 
my people weeping at my extravagance." He had recourse to a 
dangerous expedient — the sale of the public posts — in order to 
increase his revenues without burdening the people ; still, he did 
not extend this practice to the offices of judicature. The importance 
of the parliament of Paris, already diminished under the preceding 
reigns by the creation of the parliaments of Toulouse, Grenoble, 
Bourdeaux, and Dijon, was again weakened under Louis XII. by the 
creation of the parliaments of Rouen and Aix. The wise regulations 
of the King for the administration of justice and the finances ren- 
dered him worthy of the great name of Father of the People, which 
the States of Tours had bestowed upon him. In 1510 he had lost 
his minister and friend, the cardinal Georges d'Amboise, 

7 ° 7 Georges 

who had the rare happiness, for a prime minister, to see d'Amboise. 
his name blessed by the people. " Let no one interfere with Georges," 
said they. Archbishop of Rouen and friend of the arts, he covered 
Normandy with elegant structures, the first attempts of the Renais- 
sance, and he would have merited a place in the rank of great 
citizens, if his counsels for foreign policy had not drawn France, his 
king, and himself into a fatal course, in which a wise and good 
prince and a devoted minister were to be seen abandoning towards 
strangers the maxims which made their glory in the interior of the 

The example and the principles of Louis XII. had made a school 
in Europe, and diplomacy was born before the science of the rights 
of the peoples was known and respected. Nations believed that 
they had no moral duty to fulfil towards one another, and thought 
that personal interest and success justified fraud, treachery, and the 
most atrocious violence. The celebrated Florentine Machiavelli had 

* Memoires de Brantome. 

z 2 

340 STATE OF EUROPE. [Book III. Chap. IV. 

made a science of this frightful policy, of which the most famous 
disciples were Ferdinand the Catholic, Alexander -VI., and the 
execrable Ca3sar Borgia, his son, the hero of Machiavelli. Louis XIL 
Policy of Louis was their T wal in violence and perfidy, bnying, betray- 
X1L ing, and sacrificing peoples withont scruple according 

to the interest of the moment. He only gathered, as did the most 
part of these sovereigns, bitter fruits from so many shameful acts. 
It was still necessary that Europe and its kings should suffer long- 
calamities before finding out that nations, like individuals, are allied; 
between themselves by sacred obligations, and that morality alone,, 
in strict union with policy, can guarantee to them peace and security. 
During the century which had just passed away the world had 
put on a new aspect. Great, wars had weakened the 

General consider- 
ations upon aristocracv, rallied the people round their sovereigns-,. 

Europe in the . 

15th century. an( j giyen a prodigious development to the sentiment of 
national independence. The three great nations, Spain, England, 
and France, had become firmly constituted, and all authority had 
passed into the hands of the kings. The military republic of the 
Swiss was elevated for a short time by the fall of the house of Bur- 
gundy, but the powerful republican states of the North and of the 
South had disappeared. The Hanseatic League, composed of eighty 
towns, occupying all the southern borders of Germany, had lost its 
commercial preponderance, which had passed to the rival towns of 
the Lower Rhine and Belgium, then subject to the house of Austria, 
of which Frederic III. and Maximilian founded the future greatness. 
Venice was humiliated, Florence and Genoa were enfeebled. In the 
midst of this fusion of all political powers into one only, under the 
triumph of the monarchical principle in Europe, there germinated the 
seed, of the greatest revolution which has shaken the Christian world. 
This event was the emancipation of human thought, of which up to 
that time spiritual power had restrained the flight. 
. The Catholic Church was the only authority generally recognized 
which had survived the fall of the Roman empire. She alone had 
been able to subdue the barbarians, to struggle effectually against 
state of the ^e frightful anarchy of that period by the principles 

Church. £ or( j er an( j f Christian virtue and by the merit of a 

great part of her clergy ; she alone thus preserved a power of social 


organization in the midst of the general upheaving, and founded the 
governments of the Middle Ages by arrogating to herself an all- 
powerful authority over human reason at a time when men recog- 
nized no other law between them than that of brute force. It was 
thus that the Romish Church fulfilled a double mission, which was 
that of constituting modern society on a Christian basis, and of giving 
to it the tie of a common faith, powerful enough to enable Europe 
to stem the flood of the Mussulman invasion, the destroyer of Chris- 
tianity in Asia. "When this double aim was attained, and when the 
Church had directed the reaction of the crusades, a thousand causes 
threatened her power each day, while a rival authority grew great 
at her side. The theological disputes raised by the great schism of 
the West provoked among the faithful the progress of the spirit of 
examination. Already the clergy were no longer looked upon as the 
only dispensers of knowledge, the fall of Constantinople had dispersed 
the writings of antiquity over the whole of Europe. The expeditions 
into Italy, so unfortunate in a political sense, introduced the French 
nation to a more advanced civilization, to an acquaintance with the 
masterpieces of Raphael and of Michael Angelo, and to the treasures 
of a literature created by Boccaccio, Dante, and Petrarch, and recently 
enriched by Machiavelli and Ariosto. The admiration excited by 
ancient literature and by that of Italy inspired the taste for philo- 
logical studies ; and lastly, printing, newly invented, powerfully 
seconded the work of investigation, of research, and of examination, 
and spread, with an unheard-of rapidity, all the new opinions. During 
this period, and almost without interruption, the throne of Rome was 
occupied by a succession of pontiffs whose minds were little conformed 
to the spirit of Christianity. After Alexander VI. appeared Julius II., 
the warrior pope, whose ambitious pride caused streams of blood 
to pour forth ; the magnificent and frivolous Leo X. came afterwards, 
and added to the afflictions of the Church. Meanwhile, some bold 
reformers, Wycliffe in England, John Huss and Jerome of Prague in 
Germany, had reproduced some of the doctrines of the Waldenses, 
and the horror excited by the funeral pile of John Huss prepared the 
way for new reformers, when the odious traffic in indulgences com- 
menced. The building of the magnificent structures of Leo X., and 
above all, of the church of Saint Peter at Rome, required immense 


sums. The Pope sold his pardons to the faithful ; monks by his order 
overran the whole of Europe, and sold the Roman indulgences in 
the wine-houses and places of debauch. Luther then appeared. This 
Origin of the famous man, a monk of the order of the Augustins, 
Reformation. thundered against the culpable traffic of the pontifical 
court, and tried to reform the abuses of the Church. It was this 
circumstance that gave the name JReforin to the revolution that he 
worked. It required nearly two centuries to accomplish it, and its 
origin dates from the period when feudalism expired in France, and 
when monarchical power obtained its highest degree of influence 
in the great states constituted in the fifteenth century. 

This epoch is, moreover, that of the greatest enterprises and the 
most celebrated inventions. The Genoese Christopher Columbus 
ra . . . had discovered America in 1492, and had afiven a new 

Discoveries, tac- ' & 

tics, diplomacy. WO rld to Spain; and soon after, in 1497, the Portuguese 
Vasco di Gama found the route to India by doubling the Cape of 
Good Hope. Maritime commerce quitted the Mediterranean Sea in 
order to cover the ocean with its fleets ; new military tactics were 
created ; the use of gunpowder, which had become generally spread, 
entirely took away from the aristocracy their superiority of strength ; 
diplomacy had sprung into existence ; the sovereigns began to com- 
prehend that it was necessary to balance mutually their influence in 
order to prevent the most powerful from aggrandizing themselves at 
the expense of the weakest ; lastly, printing was about to establish 
new and indestructible bonds between men. All the forces created 
by the great discoveries of the fifteenth century were to be tried and 
developed simultaneously with religious reform and the new birth 
of art in the sixteenth : everything announced that the new century 
would be an age of intellectual development, of movement, and of 











Under Francis I. all was silence around the throne: the States- 
General were no more convoked ; the parliaments Accession of 
proclaimed the doctrine of absolute power ; the submis- "' 

sive clergy invoked the protection of the sceptre, and the expiring 
genius of the old armed feudality was reduced to powerlessness by 
the irrevocable union of Brittany with the Crown. Thenceforth 
from the Ocean to the Alps, from the Somme to the Mediterranean 
and the Pyrenees, was to be under the hand of one sole master. 

This Prince, twenty years of age at his accession, was the son of 
Louisa of Savoy and Charles of Angouleme, cousin- Characterof 
german to Louis XII., both descendants of the Duke FranclsL 
of Orleans, brother of Charles VI. Brought up by his mother, a 
violent, covetous, and not entirely chaste woman, he was from his 
infancy absolute master of his own actions. The romances of 
chivalry formed his only study, and he wished, like Charles VIII., 
to march upon the tracks of Roland and of Amadis. He derived 
from the same books his notions upon the prerogatives of the Crown. 


He maintained that every order that emanated from his month was 
a decree of destiny, and conld not conceive that the Parliament, 
Princes, Nobility, or States- General conld have the right to restrain 
his anthority. Nevertheless, in spite of his absolnte character, he 
abandoned himself without reserve to Lonisa, his mother, and to the 
Chancellor Antoine Dnprat, a venal and corrnpt man : these two 
governed France for a long period in his name. 

Scarcely had Francis I. seized the sceptre, than, following the 
example of Lonis XII., he tnrned his eyes towards Italy ; he wished 
to conqner Milan, where a Sforza still reigned, and raised a for- 
midable army of two thonsand five hundred men-at-arms, ten 
thonsand Gascon and twenty-two thonsand German foot- soldiers. 
Among them might have been distingnished Charles de Montpensier, 
Duke of Bonrbon, the Marshal de Chabannes, J. J. Trivnlzio, La 
Tremouille and his son Talmond, Imberconrt, Teligny, Lautrec, 
Bnssy d'Amboise, and Bayard, the " knight withont fear and withont 

Francis I., at the point of departure, named his mother Regent 
of France ; then he took the command of his army, and arrived at 
the foot of the Alps, of which the Swiss, allies of the Dnke of Milan, 
guarded all the defiles ; but under the leadership of the celebrated 
engineer Pedro Novaro, and after unheard-of fatigues, the French 
passed over the mountains by a road that no other army had 
taken before them. On descending into the plains, Chabannes 
and Bayard, as a first exploit, surprised at table and 

First campaign . _. 

of Francis i. in carried ol .Prosper Oolonna, general 01 Maximilian 

Italv 1515 

Sforza, Duke of Milan. This important capture threw 
disorder and discouragement amoug the enemy; but twenty thousand 
Swiss rushed from their mountains and engaged the king at the 
^ . , * ™ . terrible battle of Marignano, under the walls of 

Battle of Marig- ° 7 

nano; conquest of Milan. Without other arms than pikes eighteen feet 

the Milanese, r ° 

1515 - long and heavy two-handed swords, they threw them- 

selves in serried columns upon the artillery, in spite of the ravages 
it made in their ranks, and sustained without being broken many 
charges of the French royal troops. They surrounded Francis I., 
who had fought like a hero, and broke up the different corps of his 
army. The latter rallied during the night, and the combat recom- 


menced with. fury. The Swiss then heard the war-cry of the Vene- 
tians, Marco I Marco ! They believed that the allies of the French 
had come to their succour, and retired in good order. This bloody 
battle cost the lives of six thousand French and twelve thousand 
Swiss ; the remains of the conquered army abandoned Italy. 
Francis I. asked, on the morrow of the battle, to receive the 
order of chivalry from the hand of Bayard, who was the most 
distinguished among his most valiant captains at Marignano. The 
rapid conquest of the duchy of Milan was the result of this de- 
cisive victory. In order to ensure its possession, the King con- 
cluded an alliance with the Swiss, which for a long Alliance with the 
period protected the weakest frontier of the kingdom ; Swiss ' 1515 - 
in like manner he treated with Pope Leo X., engaging himself 
to maintain at Florence the authority of Lorenzo and Julian de 
Medici, near relatives of the Pontiff, and to abolish the Pragmatic 
Sanction, which founded the liberties of the Gallican Church upon 
the decrees of the Council of Bale. 

Charles VII. had constituted these decrees a law of the State ; 
they proclaimed the superiority of the Councils over the Popes, 
refused to the Pontifical court the revenue of the vacant sees and 
benefices, and entrusted to the chapters of the churches and monas- 
teries the election of the bishops and abbes. Louis XL had after- 
wards abandoned that doctrine, but it was always recognized by the 
Parliament and the University of Paris. The Court of Borne had 
constantly protested against these decrees, and they were definitely 
suppressed by the Concordat which Leo X. and Francis I. 

m x r J . Concordat, 1516. 

signed in 1516. This celebrated treaty admitted the 
superiority of the Popes over the Councils, and restored to the 
Pontifical court the immense revenue of the Annates* It took 
away from the chapters the nomination to the prelatures, and gave 
it to the King, reserving the third of the vacant benefices for the 
graduates of the French universities. This Concordat, in order to 
bind equally the Church and France, ought to have been accepted 
by the fifth council of Lateran, then sitting at Borne, and by the 
Parliament of Paris. The Council accepted it without deliberation ; 

* The first year's revenue of the benefices which happened to he vacant, was called 
the Annates. 


but the Parliament and the University resisted the orders of the 
King, invoking the Pragmatic of Charles VII. Offended at any 
opposition to his will, as an outrage against royal majesty, Francis I. 
commanded absolute obedience. A deputation of magistrates came 
to address remonstrances to him. He was furious, and threatened 
to throw them into an underground dungeon. The Parliament 
submitted, and registered the Concordat, but protested against 
,, L , . the violence which compelled them to do it. It was 

Abasement of the £ 

Se rl Ro m ai ltunder constrained in the following year to sanction a barbarous 
authority. j aw ^ ^^j^ punished offences connected with the chase 

by whippings, confiscation, or death. " Obey," said the Chancellor 
Duprat to the magistrates, " or the King will only look upon 
you as rebels, and will chastise you as the lowest of his 
subjects." Prom that moment" all yielded in silence, and the 
monarch glorified himself in having made kings their own masters. 

The young rival of Francis I., he who was about, for so many 
years, to dispute with him the first rank in Christendom, now 
commenced to show himself upon the scene of the world. Ferdinand 
the Catholic died in 1516, leaving the throne to his daughter 
Joan the Simple, naming as Regent of Castille, Cardinal Ximenes, 
who, notwithstanding his great age, grasped the reins of the State 
vigorously, and bowed down the people and the rebellious nobility 
under his iron will. Charles of Austria, sixteen years old, son of 
Joan the Simple, was associated on the throne with 

Inheritance of 

Charles of his mother, by the Cortes of the kingdom. This young 

prince, known in after- time under the name of Charles V., 
was, through his father Philip the Handsome, inheritor of the Low 
Countries, and in 1516, the Emperor Maximilian, his grandfather, 
left him his hereditary states. Before he was twenty, Charles found 
himself master of Spain, of the Low Countries, of Austria, of the 
kingdom of ^Naples, and the Spanish possessions in America ; he was 
already the most powerful monarch in Europe. Ruled at this period 
by the Seigneur of Chievres, his governor, nothing as yet indicated the 
great faculties of his mind ; but soon his prudence, his ambition, 
the depth and perseverance of his policy, gave to his name as much 
brilliancy as his numerous crowns. The King of France, by the 
geographical situation of his states, their compactness, and their 

1515-1526] THE HOLT ROMAN EMPIRE. 349 

resources, more than by their extent, was the only one able to rival 
him in power, and he asserted his equality often with more audacity 
than prudence or good fortune. His long and bloody rivalry with 
Charles of Austria occupied a great part of the sixteenth century. The 
relations between these two sovereigns commenced, however, by a 
treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, signed at T f • 
Noyon in 1516, at the moment when Charles inherited 1516 - 
the Crown of Spain. This Prince promised Francis I. to marry 
his daughter, then in the cradle ; the marriage was to be accomplished 
when she was twelve years old ; and Francis had to give her as a 
dowry all his rights over the kingdom of Naples. 

The death of the Emperor Maximilian caused the breaking out 
between the two monarchs of the first svmptoms of the 

J r Election of 

struggle that was only to finish with their lives. Both 9 harles of 

& ° J Austria to the 

of them had pretensions to the Empire*. Francis was Im P erial throne 

* The Empire, or the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic nation, founded in 800 
"by Charlemagne, comprehended, in 1518, all Germany and Bohemia. After the 
extinction of the Carlovingian family, the Imperial throne ceased to be hereditary, and 
election carried it successively to princes of the Houses of Franconia, Saxony, Suabia, 
Luxembourg, Bavaria, and lastly to the House of Hapshurg or Austria. Until the 
fourteenth century, the numher and the prerogatives of the great feudatories having 
the right to vote for the election of emperor was undecided. The celebrated golden bull 
published in 1357 by the Emperor Charles, regulated the political rights of Gfermany and 
founded the constitution, which existed almost without change for foiir hundred and 
fifty years. From that time there were seven Electors ; the Archbishops of Treves, 
Mayence, and Cologne, the Dukes of the Palatinate, Brandenburg, and Saxony, and the 
King of Bohemia. At each vacancy of the throne these seven Electors united together, 
and decreed the Imperial crown either to a compatriot or to a foreigner. The power of 
the emperors thus chosen was far from being absolute, for they could neither make 
laws, nor levy taxes, nor declare war, without the concurrence of the Diet or National 
Assembly. This Diet was divided into three colleges ; the Electoral College where the 
prince-electors sat ; that of the lay and ecclesiastical princes when non-electors ; and a 
third, that of the free towns. 

Besides this central government, the constitution for the protection of local interests 
had created in the midst of the great confederation many small confederations, called 
circles of the Empire, each comprising a certain number of agglomerated states, 
electorates, principalities and free towns, of which the representatives united together in 
circular assembly under the presidency of a Director. The number of the circles varied 
for a long time ; but Maximilian, in 1512, divided the Empire definitely into ten circles : 
Austria, Bavaria, Suabia, Franconia, upper and lower Saxony, the upper and lower 
Rhine, Westphalia, and Burgundy. The last was soon only nominal. 

We have said that the Empire was elective. Many emperors, in order to maintain 
the crown in their families, used their influence, while living, to cause a prince of their 
House to be elected as successor. The heir presumptive thus elected bore, until his 

350 THE EIVAL MONAECHS. [Book I. Chap. I. 

prodigal witli his gold among the Electors ; but Germany, threatened 
by the Turks, had need of an Emperor whose states would serve as 
a barrier to the Mussulman invasion, and the Elector of Saxony, 
Erederic the Wise, having refused the Imperial crown, caused it 
to be given to the young Austrian Prince, so celebrated from that 
time under the name of Charles V.* Erancis I., wounded to the 
heart in his ambition, forgot the treaty of ISToyon, re- demanded 
Naples taken by Eerdinand the Catholic from Louis XII., and 
summoned the new Emperor to do him homage for the county of 
Elanders, while Charles V. claimed Milan as an Imperial mascu- 
line fief, and the Duchy of Burgundy as the inheritance of his 
grandmother Marie, daughter of Charles the Bold. The two rivals 
both sought the support of Henry VIII. , King of England. The 
interview between Francis I. ancL the English monarch took place 
at Gruines, near Calais. The excessive magnificence which was dis- 
played on both sides caused the name of the Field of the Cloth oj 
Gold to be given to the place of conference. After three weeks of 
rejoicing and splendid fetes, the two kings "signed a 
of Gold, 1520. treaty of alliance, which became illusory; for Charles V., 
having himself first visited Henry VIII., had seduced by his 
largesses, and by the hope of the Papacy, Cardinal TVolsey, minister 
and favourite of that Prince. So much eagerness, on the part of 
the two most powerful monarchs in Europe, to gain Henry to their 
cause, made him adopt this proud motto : — He on whose side I am is 

Nevertheless, in spite of so many motives of discord and jealousy, 
neither of the two rivals was anxious to commence the war. Erancis 
occupied himself with his pleasures, and Charles with the care of 
subjugating his people. Spain looked upon him as a foreigner, and 
rose in defence of its political rights ; while Germany, indignant 
at the shameful traffic in indulgences, commenced to agitate through 

accession, the title of King of the Romans. This was the ancient Caesar of the Roman 

Napoleon, in 1806, destroyed the old German constitution, and suppressed the title of 
Emperor of Germany, which since 1458 had continued in the family of Hapsburg, 
or the House of Austria. 

* He was the fifth Emperor of the name of Charles, and the first King of Spain of 
the same name. 

1515-1526] BUKNING OF THE PAPAL BULL. 351 

the voice of Luther. This famous monk had just burned in public 
at Wittenburg, in 1517, the bull of excommunication 

• Bc^innin^s of 

issued against him by the Pope. An act so audacious Luther. Diet of 

. , -r, . , . , Worms, 1521. 

seized Europe with astonishment, and Charles V. con- 
voked a Diet at Worms, in order, as he said, to repress the new 
opinions, which were dangerous to the peace of Germany. Luther 
appeared at this Diet with a safe-conduct from the Emperor, and 
under the more efficacious protection of the Elector of Saxony, 
Frederic the Wise, and of a hundred armed knights. He energetically 
defended his doctrines, in which, more than all, he attacked auricular 
confession, the intercession of the saints, the dogma of purgatory, 
that of transubstantiation, the celibacy of the priests, and the 
authority of the Church. The Diet permitted him to retire, and 
soon afterwards outlawed him. The Elector of Saxony caused him 
to be carried away by men in masks, and conducted to the fortress 
of Wartburg, where he lived shut up for nine months, concealed 
from his friends and enemies. It was there that he commenced his 
translation of the Bible, and composed a multitude of writings 
stamped with his genius, which was logical, impetuous, irascible, and 
yet perfectly fitted, even by its triviality, to govern the still coarse 
mind of his age. 

While these great interests divided Europe, Leo X., always 
frivolous and inconsiderate, excited the French to the conquest of 
Naples, promising them his support ; then he treated almost im- 
mediately with Charles V. At last hostilities commenced. A 
French army commanded by L'Espare had just lost Navarre after 
having invaded it ; and the captains of the Emperor, Nassau and 
Sickingen, had violated the French territory, in order to Firgt hostmties 
attack Robert de La Marck, au ally of that kingdom. ^Sf^cSl, 
War broke out in the North and in the South. The 52L 
Imperial troops took Mourzon, and besieged Mezieres, which was 
saved by Anne de Montmorency and the Chevalier Bayard. Lautrec, 
lieutenant-general of the King, failed to receive money for the pay of 
his army. Four hundred thousand crowns had been promised him 
for this purpose by Francis I. ; but Louisa of Savoy had compelled the 
superintendent-general, Semblancay to deliver up to her that sum, 
without the knowledge of the King, her son. The Spaniards then 


attacked Lautrec, who, badly supported by the mercenary troops, 
was beaten at Bicoque. The malcontent Swiss returned 

Battle of Bicoque, . . A , 

1522. The French to their homes, and Milan was again lost. At the same 

driven from Italy. 

time Henry VIII. united with the Emperor against 
Francis I., and both declared war against him, while Adrian VI., 
former preceptor of Charles V., ascended the pontifical throne. His 
predecessor, Leo X., had in Italy bequeathed his name to the cen- 
tury. He was great by his magnificence and the enlightened pro- 
tection that he accorded to art and literature ; no monarch was 
ever surrounded by so many celebrated artists, or knew better 
how to animate their genius ; but few men were less fit than he to 
sustain the combat against Luther or to represent a successor of the 

Exhausted by the prodigalities of the King and the thefts of the 
nobles more than by the war, the treasury was empty, and money 
was necessary. Recourse was, in the first place, had to the ordinary 
means, in raising the land taxes and in borrowing money, but these 
were not sufficient. Under the fatal inspiration of the minister Du- 
prat, the offices of the magistracy, the number of which 
offices of e was doubled, were sold for money. In vain the Parlia- 

ments protested ; the new magistrates were maintained, 
and this deplorable custom of venality, for the first time avowed and 
recognized, lasted until the French Revolution. Two parties then 
divided the court ; the one, that of Louisa of Savoy, directed by the 
Chancellor Duprat and Admiral Bonnivet, both far advanced in the 
favour of the King ; at the head of the other party were the Duchess 
of Chateaubriand, mistress of Francis I., and her brothers Lescuns 
and Lautrec, sustained by the Constable Duke of Bourbon, the richest 
and most powerful noble of the kingdom. Louisa of Savoy, forty- 
seven years old, proposed to the Duke to marry her. Bourbon rejected 
these offers, adding irony to the refusal. The Princess, furious, swore 
that she would be avenged, and her resentment was fatal to France. 
She brought an unjust action against the Duke ; the Parliament did 
not dare to declare its opinion ; but Francis, urged on by his mother, 
seized and united to the Crown the immense possessions 

Action against 

the Constable of of the Constable, which comprehended, anion a- other 

Bourbon, 1523. ' ....... ° 

seignories, Bourbonnais, Dauphine, Auvergne, Forez, 

/ 1515-1526] FRESH CAMPAIGN IN ITALY. 353 

Marche, and Beaujolais. He immediately treated secretly with. 
Henry VIII. and Charles V., and invited them both to divide the 
kingdom. Informed of these negotiations, the King tried to seize 
his person; Bourbon escaped into Germany, and re-appeared soon 
afterwards at the head of the armies of the Emperor. 

The war then commenced, with advantages to France on all the 
frontiers. The Germans attacked Champagne and Franche-Comte 
without success ; the Spaniards were repulsed in the South, while 
La Tremouille successfully defended Picardy against an English army. 

In spite of so many perils, Francis I. still dreamed of conquest 
in Italy ; he sent a brilliant army there, under the 

Second and third 

command of Admiral Bonnivet. This favourite was campaign in 

Italy, 1524, 1525. 

not a skilful captain, and each of his steps was marked 
by a fault or by a reverse. Francesco Colonna compelled him to 
raise the blockade of Milan, and to fall back on Ticino. In a few 
months the French army was in great distress, deprived of provisions 
and decimated by the plague. Bonnivet ordered a retreat, and got 
away, actively pursued by the Imperial troops, commanded by the 
best of the enemy's captains, Lannoy, Pescaire, and the Duke of 
Bourbon. Bayard commanded the rearguard ; a shot struck him 
in the back, and he was carried to the foot of a tree, his face turned 
towards the enemy. Bourbon ran towards him and ^ , , 

J Death of 

expressed his deep compassion. "It is not I," answered Ba y ard > 1524. 
Bayard, " but you who ought to be pitied, you who fight against 
your king, your country, and your oath." Thus perished the 
knight who was dearest to France, and the most accomplished 
among all those of whom history has preserved the remembrance. 

Bourbon and the Marquis of Pescaire invaded Provence, and a 
number of towns submitted. Marseilles heroically sustained a long 
siege ; it was defended by Renzo de Ceri, chief of a legion of patriotic 
Italians, an old remnant of the party of liberty crushed out at 
Florence and Pisa. After forty days of useless attack, the Imperial 
troops drew off, having been informed of the approach of Francis I., 
and of the successes of Andrea Doria, a celebrated Genoese Admiral 
in the service of that monarch. Francis inarched into Italy at the 
head of a third army; he rapidly recovered the whole. of the Milanese 
territory, and besieged Pavia. He remained for a long time before this 

A A 

354 BATTLE OF PAVIA. [Book I. Chap. L 

place, when the Imperial troops approached, under the orders of 
Lannoy, Pescaire, and Bourbon. Francis I. waited for them in his 
lines, and the armies remained in presence of each other for a long- 
period without coming to blows. At length, on the 25th of February, 
Battle of Pa 'a 1^25, they engaged in battle, and the imprudent excite- 
1525> ment of the King lost it. His artillery made great ravages 

in the Imperial troops : obliged to pass within range, the latter endea- 
voured to gain, in open order, and at the top of their speed, a small 
valley where they would be sheltered from this murderous fire. Francis 
did not understand this movement: "See where they fly," said he; 
"let us charge ! let us charge ! " and immediately rushed, at the head of 
his retinue, between the guns and the enemy. The artillery, 
masked, ceased its fire ; the enemy rallied and waited with firm 
composure. At that instant the Swiss of the French army, being 
attacked in flank, lost ground, and the Duke of Alencon took flight 
with the rearguard. The Imperial army entirely surrounded the 
King. In vain Francis I. and his knights performed heroic 
exploits ; Bonnivet, La Palisse, Lescuns, old La Tremouille, and 
Bussy d'Amboise were killed before his eyes : he himself, thrown 
from his horse, covered with blood, and twice wounded, was recog- 
nized by Pomperan, a gentleman of the Duke of Bourbon, and 
summoned to surrender. Francis refused to give himself up to a 
renegade ; he caused the Viceroy Lannoy to be called, and gave up 
his sword to him. It was on the occasion of this bloody battle of 
Pavia that the King wrote a letter to his mother in which he used 
a phrase which has since been celebrated : " Madame, all is lost, 
except honour." Young Henry II. d'Albret, King of Navarre, 
had been taken prisoner with the King of France. He was im- 
Ca tivit of prisoned in the citadel of Pavia, from whence he 
Francis L, 1525. contrived to escape. Francis was concealed from ob- 
servation in that of Pizzighettone, and from there transferred to 
Madrid by order of Charles V. 

The interests of the kingdom were then confused with those- of 
the persons of the kings. France had learned neither from the 
misfortunes of King John nor from the madness of Charles YI. 
the importance of a monarchy protecting itself from the calamities 
which might befall the monarch. The state seemed to be mad when 

1515-1526] TREATY OP MADRID. 355 

tlie King was mad, and it appeared to be in the hands of the enemy 
when the King was captive. Francis I., before his departure, had, 
it is true, conferred the regency of the kingdom upon his mother, 
Louisa of Savoy, so that a legitimate authority was recognized in 
France in spite of his captivity ; but the sovereignty remained 
entirely in his person ; he alone could accept or reject the conditions 
imposed on his deliverance ; he alone, in fact, represented the will of 
France, when danger, fear, or weariness no longer permitted him 
the free use of his own will. The Emperor saw in the captivity of 
Francis I. the humiliation and ruin of France, and resolved to profit 
to the utmost by his victory. The King fell ill in prison ; Charles, 
who had, until then, refused to see him, visited him and consoled him 
by affectionate words ; but soon after his recovery he set him at liberty 
upon sad and dishonourable conditions for France. Overcome with 
*ief, the King thought of abdicating, but had not strength to 
>ersist in so noble a resolution ; he protested against the treaty which 
'-as imposed on him, and signed it, secretly resolved not to 
observe it. By this treaty of Madrid he ceded all his T __ 

rights upon Italy; renounced the sovereignty of the drid ' 1526 - 
counties of Flanders and Artois ; abandoned to the Emperor, as 
the descendant of Charles the Bold, the duchy of {Burgundy 
and the county of Charolais, with other seignories. He engaged 
to marry Eleanor, Dowager Queen of Portugal, sister of the 
Emperor ; he pardoned the Duke of Bourbon, and established him 
in his rights ; finally, he concluded an offensive and defensive league 
with the Emperor, promising to accompany him in person when he 
went upon a crusade against the Turks or against heretics. Charles Y., 
on his side, gave up the towns on the Somme which had belonged 
to Charles the Bold. 

After the signature of this treaty the King was exchanged at the 
frontier for his two sons, and on the same dav reached ^ ,. 

' J Deliverance of 

Bayonne, where he found his mother and all his court. Francis ?■> 1526 - 
He believed that in escaping from his enemies he was equally free 
from the obligations which he had contracted with them, and 
replied to the messengers of the Emperor that he could not ratify 
the treaty of Madrid without the consent of the States of the 
kingdom and of the duchy of Burgundy. 

A A 2 

356 THE HOLY LEAGUE. [Book I. ChAP. II. 




Francis I. alleged the rights and wishes of his kingdom as a reason 
for exempting him from keeping his engagements ; he had, however, 
no intention of consulting France ; he would have believed that he 
was putting himself under the tutelage of the States- General if 
he had convoked them. Desiring always to oppose to the Emperor 
a will that should appear national, he called together at Cognac 
the princes, the nobles, and bishops who then formed part of his 
court. This assembly disengaged him from his word. The States of 
Burgundy, on their side, declared that they did not wish to separate 
from France. Being informed of these declarations, 

Rupture of the 

treaty of Madrid, Charles V. answered: — "Let not Francis I. throw his 


want of faith upon his subjects ; in order to keep his 
word, he ought to die in Spain ; let him do it." 

Italy, however, had only escaped from the French to fall into the 
_,, „ , „ avaricious hands of the Imperial troops. Francis then, 

The Holy League, -*- < x 

1527 - impatient for vengeance, presented himself to the people 

of Italy, no longer as master but as an ally ; he offered the sword of 
France in order to free them. Venice, Florence, Francis Sforza, Duke 
of Milan, and the Pope appealed to him as a liberator, and the King 
of England himself, afraid of the colossal power of Charles V., entered 
into the Holy League. In the name of the independence of Italy, the 
Duke of Urbino raised an Italian army ; but before the French troops 
had crossed the Alps, fifteen thousand German infantry, soldiers of 
the Emperor, descended like a torrent upon Italy ; crossing Lombardy, 
Tuscany, and the Romagna, they threw themselves upon Rome, the 
centre of the Holy League. The Constable de Bourbon, the idol of 
these adventurers, and the Lutheran George Frondsberg, who carried 

1526-1550] CAPTURE AND SACK OF ROME. 357 

round his neck a gold chain, destined, he said, to strangle the Pope, 
marched at their head. The assault was made on the 6th May, 1527. 
Bourbon perished while placing a ladder at the foot of the ramparts ; 
but Rome was taken, and the Imperial troops avenged 

A *■ ° Capture and sack 

their General by sacking the eternal city and by a of Rome, 1527. 
frightful massacre. Eight thousand Romans perished on the first 
day, and the Pope had to sustain a long siege in the Castle of Saint 

Henry VIII. and Francis I. resolved to set free the Pontiff and 
Italy. Francis was to furnish the troops, and Henry a subsidy ; this sum 
was far from sufficient, and the King convoked in a "bed of justice" 
an assembly of the principal personages of the Parliament ; he explained 
to them his conduct, and requested money and their approval. He 
obtained both, and raised a new army, which he entrusted to Lautrec. 
The Kings of Prance and England declared war against the Emperor, 
who heaped reproaches on Francis I., and received a challenge in 
answer. Lautrec entered Lombardy, commenced the war with 
success, and penetrated into the kingdom of Naples. Fourt h campaign 
There he remained without money ; an epidemic cut ln Italy ' 1528# 
down his army, already exhausted by fatigue and privations ; he 
himself was attacked and died. Another French army, commanded by 
Saint-Pol, shared the same fate. Scarcely had it entered Milan when 
it was defeated and dispersed at Landriano ; Saint-Pol was taken 
prisoner. France also lost, about the same time, the assistance of the 
celebrated Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria, the first sailor of his 
age. Discontented with the imprudent disdain of Francis I., he quitted 
his service for that of Charles V., and replaced Genoa, his country, 
under the protection of the Emperor. 

Europe, at this period, was in fear of a new Mussulman invasion. 
Rhodes, looked upon as the bulwark of Christianity, had sustained, in 
1523, a memorable siege against two hundred thousand Turks, 
commanded by Soliman the Magnificent. The heroic valour of the 
Knights of Rhodes, and of their grand-master L'lie- „ . . . , . 

° ° Celebrated siege 

Adam, had proved powerless against their numbers. After of Rhodes > 1523 - 
six months' siege, Rhodes surrendered, and the Turks advanced 
into Europe. Charles V., pressed by them and threatened by the 
Reformers, who had commenced to call themselves " Protestants," on 


account of their protestation against Rome, modified his pretensions 
with regard to France. The misery of the peoples was frightful, and 
the resources of the two rival sovereigns seemed exhausted. New 
negotiations were opened at Cambrai, by the conferences between 
Louisa of Savoy, in the name of her son, and Marguerite of Austria, 
The Ladies' ruler of the Low Countries, in the name of the Emperor, 

Peace, 1529. ^er nephew. A treaty was concluded, less onerous, but 
more shameful in some respects, than that of Madrid, in which the 
clauses in regard to Artois and Flanders were maintained ; the King 
abandoned the sovereignty of those countries ; he engaged, besides, 
to pay two millions of gold crowns, renounced all rights upon Italy, 
and abandoned all his allies to the resentment of the Emperor. At 
this price his two sons were freed, and the duchy of Burgundy still 
remained to the kingdom. This peace, which threw discredit on 
France throughout Europe, was signed in 1529, and called The Ladies' 

All Italy fell again, almost without resistance, under the yoke of 
Italy ref alien Charles V., who disposed of crowns at his pleasure. 
of n the r imperial Florence alone repulsed the Medici, whom the Emperor 
roops. wished to impose on them, and sustained for a year an 

heroic siege. The illustrious sculptor Michael Angelo conducted the 
defence, and immortalized himself as much by his patriotism as by 
his genius ; but at last the Florentines were compelled to yield. The 
glory of Michael Angelo alone saved his head ; all the best citizens 
were banished or put to death. In this way the Florentine Republic 
was subdued. 

The fatal Ladies' Peace was a new misfortune, that France owed to 
Louisa of Savoy and her confidant the Chancellor Duprat. The 
The Chanceii r l a ^er, only a short time in orders, had become Arch- 
Duprat. bishop of Sens and Cardinal ; but that was not enough, 

and he almost died with chagrin when he was not raised to the 
Pontifical throne; his cupidity, too, exceeded his ambition; in his 
hands the royal treasury was pillaged, and he made himself master of 
the richest benefices. The Parliament, which he tried vainly to 
corrupt by the addition of members devoted to himself, dared to 
raise its voice against him. The King immediately convoked that 
body in a bed of justice, and threateningly forbade it to interfere in the 

1526-1550] SITUATION OF ETJKOPE. 359 

acts of tlie chancellor and the distribution of benefices. At the 
request of Duprat he prosecuted the financiers pitilessly, and brought 
before a commission, Poncher, Treasurer- General, and Semblancay, the 
retired superintendent of finances. Poncher, during his ministry, had 
drawn upon himself the hatred of Duprat ; Semblancay had excited 
that of Louisa of Savoy, by revealing the abstraction by her of four 
hundred thousand crowns intended to defray the expenses of the war 
in Italy. Chosen from among the enemies of the „ • .. ■' 

J o Execution of 

accused, the judges decreed a sentence of death. The gemwanS? 
two old men were hanged in 1527, at the gibbet of 1527 ' 
Montfaucon, and their property was confiscated. 

Duprat, whose administration was so shameful, promoted one 
measure of high utility. Francis I. until then had governed Brittany 
only in the quality of duke of that province ; Duprat counselled him 
to unite this duchy in an indissoluble manner with the crown, and he 
prevailed upon the States of Brittany themselves to request this 
reunion, which alone was capable of preventing the breaking out of 
civil wars at the death of the King. It was irrevocably 
voted by the States assembled at Yannes in 1532. The Brittany with 
King swore to respect the rights of Brittany, and not declared indis- 
to raise any subsidy therein without the consent of the 
States Provincial. 

The situation of Europe was then almost everywhere threatening 
or agitated. The greater part of the princes and the 

Political and 

states of Germany had admitted the new religious religious state of 

. & Europe. 

opinions. Many of these princes believed that in 
adopting them they were justified in seizing for their own profit the 
property of the Church, and were suspected of having embraced the 
cause more on account of embarrassed finances than from their 
hatred for the abuses of the Court of Rome. Already Frederic I. 
had accorded freedom of conscience to Denmark, while Gustavus 
Yasa adhered, with the Church of Sweden, to the confession of faith 
drawn up at the Diet of Augsburg by Melancthon, a disciple of 
Luther and the most gentle of the Reformers. The German princes, 
who were partisans of the Reformation, united together in 1531, 
against the Emperor, by the celebrated league of Smal- T e a . 

x 1 J <=> League of Smal- 

calde. Lastly, Henry YIIL, to whom the Court of calde » 163L 

360 THE ANABAPTISTS. [Book I. Chap. IL 

Rome had not dared to grant permission for his divorce from 
Catharine of Aragon, aunt of the Emperor, repudiated that princess 
in order to marry Anne Boleyn, opposing at the same time the Pope 
and Luther by executions, and causing himself to be proclaimed 
by his servile Parliament the head of the Auglican Church. The 
populace of a great number of countries became agitated, renewing 
the war of the Jacquerie, and the pretensions of the Levellers; a 
crowd of visionaries took up arms ; the rallying word was the 
necessity of a second baptism ; the aim, a terrible war against property, 
which, they said, constituted a perpetual spoliation with regard to 
the poor, and against science, which they accused of destroying the 
natural equality among men. According to them, books, pictures, 
and statues were the inventions of the devil ; they ran from church 
to church, breaking the images" and overturning the altars. The 
peasants of Suabia and Thuringia rose in insurrection ; the latter, 
under the name of Anabaptists, followed the fanatical Muntzer, and next 
John of Ley den. They tried to join themselves with the insurgents 
of Franconia, Alsatia, Lorraine, and the Tyrol ; they everywhere 
deposed the magistrates, and seized the property of the nobles and 
the rich, whom they subjected to frightful treatment. They did an 
immense injury to the cause of the disciples of Luther, who united 
with the Catholics in order to fight and exterminate them. 

Such was religious state of Europe when Francis I. commenced 
his violent persecution of the Lutherans or Protestants. For a long 
time his court and his family were divided in opinion. His sister, 
Marguerite of Valois, and Anne de Pisseleu, Duchess d'Etampes, 
his mistress, protected the new belief; Louisa of Savoy had con- 
demned it, inflicting great severities upon its disciples ; Francis I. 
appeared at first to be himself undecided ; but his eyes were always 
glancing back to Italy, the conquest of which the Pope could 
facilitate for him. This motive, as much perhaps as religious 
feeling, joined to his antipathy towards the spirit of independence, 
decided his conduct. He closely united his cause with that of Rome 
by causing his second son, Henry IL, to marry Catherine de Medici, 
niece of Pope Clement VII. He did not, however, obtain the ad- 
vantages that he had hoped for from this union. The pontiff only 
survived the marriage a short time, and had as successor Alexander 

1526-1550] SEVERITIES OF FRANCIS I. 361 

Farnese, who became Pope under the name of Paul III.* Francis I. 
persevered, nevertheless, in the rigorous course that he had traced out, 
and proved himself in France a cruel persecutor of the Protestants. 
Jean Morin, a criminal magistrate, seized a great number in the 
year 1535, and the King, who found a violent diatribe 
against the mass affixed to his door, resolved upon Francis i. with 

. regard to the 

appeasing heaven by taking vengeance on this crime. Protestants, 
A procession went out one morning from the church of 
Saint- Germain, preceded by the relics of saints preserved in Paris ; 
the King followed the Holy Sacrament, his head bared, and a torch 
in his hand ; after him walked the queen, the princes, two hundred 
gentlemen, the parliament, and all the officers of justice ; the am- 
bassadors were also present. The procession passed through all the 
quarters of the town. In each of the six principal places were erected 
a temporary altar, and near, a scaffold and a pile. At these six 
places six unfortunates perished, burnt alive amidst the curses of the 
people ; and the King declared that if his own children were to 
become heretics, he would immolate them. This horrible procession 
took place on the 21st of January. It was followed by an edict which 
proscribed the Reformers, confiscated their goods to the profit of their 
denunciators, and forbade them to print any book on pain of death. 

In spite of this ardent zeal for the Catholic faith, Francis main- 
tained active relations with the Lutherans of Germany and the 
Protestant princes of the league of Smalcalde. They, however, 
indignant at his severities, wished to break with him ; he calmed 
them by giving them to understand that those whom he exterminated 
were similar to the fanatical followers of Muntzer and John of 
Leyden. Calvin, the apostle of reform in France, had just ap- 
peared ; he avenged his outraged brethren by establishing, through 
his work On the Christian Institution, dedicated to the King, that if 
the French Reformers passed the bounds set by Luther, they at least 
partook of the same principles, and that their doctrines were 

* This Pope promulgated during the reign of Francis I. the hull which- instituted the 
order of the Jesuits, of which Ignatius LSyola was the founder. The aim of this order 
was to struggle against the progress of heresy, to convert the world to the Romish 
faith, and to subject it to the Pope, of whom the Jesuits recognized the infallibility 
in all that concerned faith. The sovereign pontiff named the general of the order, and 
all the members took an oath of obedience towards him. 


reconcilable with public order and the purest morality. The King 
recognized the necessity for relaxing these persecutions, and during 
the same year issued an edict of toleration, attributed in part to 
the influence of Antoine du Bourg, successor to Duprat in charge 
Of the chancellorship. 

Charles Y. always persevered in his intention of stifling Protes- 
tantism, and he would, perhaps, have anihilated it in his States, if 
other enemies had not suspended his attacks and drawn upon them- 
selves the efforts of his arms. 

The Mussulman invasion had made rapid progress ; an innumerable 
Turkish army, conducted across Hungary under the walls of Yienna, 
had been repulsed in 1529 ; but the treatment of the Christians by 
the corsairs of Barbary, a pest, until then unknown, desolated the 
banks of the Mediterranean. Two brothers, named Barbarossa, 
famous corsairs, had taken possession of Algiers and Tunis, and, co- 
vered the sea with their vessels, pillaging the coasts of Spain, France, 
and Italy, and carrying off into slavery a multitude of Christians 
every year. One of the brothers, chief admiral of Soliman, alarmed 
the whole of Europe. Charles "V". armed a formidable 

Expedition of 

Charles v. to fleet against him, commanded, under his orders, by 

Tunis. . . 

Andrea Doria ; he conquered Barbarossa, took Tunis, 
and set free twenty thousand Christians. In the meanwhile, Sforza, 
Duke of Milan, died without issue ; Francis claimed the inheritance 
for his second son, the Duke of Orleans. Already, for some 
time, France, without plausible motive, had declared war against 
Charles III., Duke of Savoy,* brother-in-law of Charles Y. Turin 

and all Piedmont were rapidlv invaded bv Admiral 

Conquest of r J J 

Piedmont by the Chabot de Briou, and the French and Imperial troops 

French, 1536. L x 

soon found themselves in each other's presence upon 
the frontiers of Milan. Hostilities broke out ; the army of Chabot, 
very inferior in number, fell back upon France, leaving garrisons in 
the conquered places. But the Emperor, without stopping to besiege 
them, crossed the Yar at the head of fifty thousand men, announcing 
that he was going to march upon Paris, and commenced by invading 
Provence ; but there he only found a desert. All the country of 

* Savoy was created a duchy during the reign of Charles V. 

1526-1550] CHARLES Y. IN FRANCE. 363 

Provence had been laid waste by the French armies themselves ; 
everywhere they had torn down the vines, destroyed Invasionof 
the wells, and burnt the [harvests. The towns had not Ej^Jj^Jf 
been more fortunate ; Even Aix, the capital, was 1536 ' 
sacked and abandoned. The Imperial army, exhausted by famine 
and disease, retraced its steps without having fought. 

The Dauphin of France had just died, and although his death 
appeared natural, Montecuculli, his cup-bearer, was accused of poison- 
ing him j he confessed the crime in the midst of atrocious tortures, 
named the Emperor as his accomplice, and was dismembered. The 
war redoubled its fury in the Low Countries and Piedmont ; at last, 
Pope Paul III. arranged that a truce of ten years should be signed 
between the rival monarchs, who divided the estates _ 

Treaty of Nice, 

of the unfortunate Duke of Savoy, and agreed to see 1538> 
each other at Aigues-Mortes. These two sovereigns, who had in- 
undated Europe with blood on account of their quarrels, and one of 
whom accused the other of poisoning his son, presented the strange 
spectacle of a perfectly friendly conference, approaching each other 
with open arms, and lavishing on each other every evidence of esteem 
and affection. 

A revolt of Grhent soon called Charles V. into Flanders ; he 
was then in Spain, and his shortest route was through France. He 
requested permission to cross the kingdom, and obtained it, after 
having promised the Constable Montmorency, that he would give 
the investiture of Milan to the second son of the King. His sojourn 
in France was a time of expensive fetes, and cost 
the treasury four millions; yet, in the midst- of his Charles v. in 

*; . . . France, 1539. 

pleasures, the Emperor was not without uneasiness. 
Kings, authorized by the customs of those still barbarous times, 
rarely sacrificed their interests to their word. The Duchess 
d'Etampes and all the court blamed the scruples of the King : his 
jester Triboulet * said one day that, hearing of the arrival of 

* The King's Jester was a buffoon, very often deformed by nature, whose office 
it "was to amuse the monarch by his sallies. He carried upon his head and in his hands 
the attributes of Folly, and, in virtue of his title and his costume, he was permitted 
to say to the king truths that the most respected and the wisest men dared not have 


Charles in France, he had inscribed his name in his tablets in the 
list of fools. "Were I to allow him to pass through," answered the 
King, " what would yon do ? " "I would efface his name," replied 
Triboulet, " and I would place your name in its place." Francis, 
however, respected the rights of hospitality ; but Charles did not 
give to his son the investiture of Milan. The King, indignant, exiled 
the constable for having trusted the word of the Emperor without 
exacting his signature, and avenged himself by strengthening his 
alliance with the Turks, the most formidable enemies 

Alliance of 

Francis i. with of the empire. Alreadv, in 1536, Francis I. had opened 

the Turks. f . . 

up negotiations, the first in Europe, with the Sultan 
Ibrahim, and a Turkish fleet had been directed upon Naples. The 
treaty of Nice had put an end to the alliance, without severing the 
relations between the courts of France and Constantinople, and 
when a new rupture between Charles Y. and Francis I. had become 
imminent, the Sultan Soliman, successor to Ibrahim, was the first ally 
to whom the King of France addressed himself. The Turks at this 
period caused the empire to tremble ; they entered triumphantly 
into Buda, the capital of Hungary, and their fleets covered the 
Mediterranean. A formidable expedition undertaken by the Emperor 
against Algiers had just failed, and the terror spread by the 
Ottoman name increased still more. Francis I. then turned to 
the Lutheran princes of Germany ; but his advances were coldly 
received by men who only saw in him a cruel persecutor of their 

The hatred of the two rnonarchs was carried to its height by these 
last events ; they mutually outraged each other by injurious libels, 
and submitted their differences to the Pope. Paul III. refused to 
decide between them, and they again took up arms. The King 
invaded Luxembourg, and the Dauphin Rousillon ; and while a third 

army in concert with the Mussulmans besieged ISTice, the 

Renewal of J ° 

hostilities be- last asylum of the dukes of Savoy, by land, the 

tween Charles Y. J d J 

and Francis i., terrible Barbarossa, admiral of Soliman, attacked it 
by sea. The town was taken, the castle alone resisted, 
and the siege of it was raised. Barbarossa consoled himself for this 
check by ravaging the coasts of Italy, where he made ten thousand 
captives. The horror which he inspired recoiled on Francis I., his 

1526-1550] TREATY OF CRESPY. 365 

ally, whose name became odious in Italy and Germany. He was 
declared the enemy of the empire, and the Diet raised against him 
an army of twenty-four thousand men, at the head of which Charles 
V. penetrated into Champagne, while Henry VIII., coalescing 
with the Emperor, attacked Picardy with ten thousand English. 
The battle of Cerisoles, a complete victory, gained during the 
same year, in Piedmont, by Francis of Bourbon, Duke Battle of Ceri . 
d'Enghien, against Gast, general of the Imperial troops, soles > 1544 - 
did not stop this double and formidable invasion. Charles V. 
advanced almost to Chateau-Thierry. But discord reigned in his 
army ; he ran short of provisious, and could easily 

J x New invasion of 

have been surrounded; he then again promised Milan France by 

° x Charles V., 1544. 

to the Duke of Orleans, the second son of the King. 
This promise irritated the Dauphin Henry, who was afraid to see 
his brother become the head of a house as dangerous for France as 
had been that of Burgundy ; he wished to reject the offer of the 
Emperor and to cut off his retreat. A rivalry among women, 
it is said, saved Charles V. The Duchess d'Etampes was the 
mortal enemy of Diana of Poictiers, mistress of the Dauphin, and 
desired, in case the King should die, to secure the powerful protec- 
tion of his second son. It is declared that she resisted the opinion 
of the Prince, and Charles was able to retire in safety as he came. 

The war was terminated almost immediately afterwards by the 
treaty of Crespy in Valois. The Emperor promised his T f _ 
daughter to the Duke of Orleans, with the Low in Yalois > 1544 - 
Countries and Franche-Comte, or one of his nieces with Milan. 
Francis restored to the Duke of Savoy the greater part of the places 
that he held in Piedmont ; he renounced all ulterior pretensions 
to the kingdom of >Taples, the duchy of Milan, and likewise to the 
sovereignty of Flanders and Artois ; Charles, on his part, gave up 
the duchy of Burgundy. This treaty put an end to the rivalry 
of the two sovereigns, which had ensanguined Europe for twenty-five 
years. The death of the Duke of Orleans freed the Emperor from 
dispossessing himself of Milan or the Low Countries ;' he refused 
all compensation to the King, but the peace was not broken. 

Francis I. profited by it to redouble his severity with regard to 
the Protestants. A population of many thousands of Waldenses, 

366 TREATY OF GUINES. [Book I. Chap. II. 

an unfortunate remnant from the religious persecutions of the 
thirteenth century, dwelt upon the confines of Provence, and the 
County Venaissin, and a short time "back had entered into com- 
munion with the Calvinists. The King permitted John Mesnier, 
Terribi massa- Baron d'Oppede, first president of the Parliament of 
sian°popSion n " ^ X ' ^° execil -te a sentence delivered against them five 
1546- years previously "by the Parliament. John d'Oppede 

himself directed this frightful execution. Twenty- two towns or 
villages were burned and sacked ; the inhabitants, surprised during 
the night, were pursued among the rocks by the glare of the flames 
which devoured their houses. The men perished by executions, but 
the women were delivered over to terrible violences. At Oabrieres, 
the principal town of the canton, seven hundred men were murdered 
in cold blood and all the women were burnt ; lastly, according to 
the tenor of the sentence, the houses were rased, the woods cut 
down, the trees in the gardens torn up, and in a short time this 
country, so fertile and so thickly peopled, became a desert and a 
waste. This dreadful massacre was one of the principal causes of 
the religious wars which desolated France for so long a time. 

Charles V. then crushed the Lutherans in Germany, and 
maintained the Catholic faith in Spain by the Inquisition, while 
Henry VIII. struck equally at both Romish and Lutheran sects. 
The war continued between him and Francis I. The English had 
taken Boulogne, and a French fleet ravaged the coasts of England, 
after taking possession of the Isle of Wight. Hostilities were 
Treat of terminated by the treaty of Guines, which the two 

Gmnes, 1547. kings signed on the edge of their graves, and it was 
arranged that Boulogne should be restored for the sum of two 
millions of gold crowns. Francis I. had suffered for a long time 
in consequence of a shameful disease, brought from America into 
Europe by Spaniards, and which brought him to his tomb. When 
he felt death approaching, he addressed, according to the custom of 
kings, wise advice to his successor. He caused the only son 
who survived him, Henry, then twenty-nine years old, to draw near 
to his bed. He recommended him to free his people from the 
tributes with which he had been compelled to burden them, and 
to profit by the good state in which he had left the finances. He 

1526-1550] DEATH OF FKASTCIS I. 367 

was indebted, lie said, to the wisdom of his ministers for this good 
administration, above all to Admiral Annebaut and to the Cardinal 
de Tournon, and recommended Henry always to follow their counsels, 
whilst he warned him against the pernicious policy of the Constable 
Montmorency, against the ambition of the Guises, and advised him 
to exclude them from power. Henry wept at the Death of F 
bedside of his father, but avoided giving him any L ' 1547 - 
promise. Henry VIII. and Francis I. died in the same year ; the 
latter had reigned for thirty-three years. 

The chivalric bravery of Francis I., his magnificence, and the 
protection he afforded to talent, gave popularity to his name ; he 
was called, The father and restorer of letters. But the » .. t . 

u u Considerations 

brilliant qualities of this prince were tarnished by great upon this reign - 
faults and an odious abuse of power. His cruelty with respect to 
the Protestants ought to be attributed, in part, to the manners and 
prejudices of his age. But it is very doubtful whether a sincere 
faith inspired these frightful persecutions, seeing that in Germany 
he energetically supported those whom he struck in his own kingdom. 
He sacrificed the blood of his people to the purposes of his ambition, 
and their gold to his pleasures. In order to defray his expenses he 
multiplied and sold the offices of judicature, alienated the royal 
domains, instituted the lottery, and created by a loan of two hundred 
thousand livres the first perpetual annuities on the Hotel de Ville, 
the origin of the public debt in France. He prosecuted by illegal 
means, and before commissions arbitrarily chosen, many 

• Origin of the 

men of eminent rank, among others the Chancellor Poyet public debt in 

France; an- 

and Admiral Chabot, and in the judgment against the cities on the 

* .7 Hotel de Ville - 

latter the King substituted his own will for the decision 

of the judges. He softened, without doubt, the rudeness of the 

national character by encouraging the progress of the arts ; but by 

abasing the magistracy, placing his caprices above the law, and 

making a display of adultery, he corrupted the manners of his court 

and his people, and this corruption increased until the end of the 

reign of the Valois. The long struggle between Francis I. and 

Charles V. brought no lasting advantage to the kingdom. His 

severities against the Reformers prepared the way for bloody civil 

wars, and, in fine, his reign was less useful than fatal to France. 


France, However, had been increased by a part of Savoy and 

Piedmont,* and the royal domain since the death of Louis XII. had 

acquired Brittany, which was completely and legally 

Increase of the *- J ' r */ o j 

royal domain. united to France under Francis I. in 1532; it was 
augmented on the accession of Louis XII. hy the apanage of Orleans 
and of Valois, containing the county of Blois, and the duchies of 
Orleans and "Valois, and had gained the county of Angouleme at 
the accession of Francis I. That prince, lastly, confiscated to the 
profit of the crown the great possessions of the eldest branch of the 
House of Bourbon, which comprehended the duchies of Bourbon, 
Auvergne and Chatelleraut, Forez, the county of Clermont, the 
dauphine of Auvergne, and a multitude of secondary fiefs. 

France, up to that time, had been divided into bailiwicks in the 
countries of the north, and into seneschalships in those of the south, 
for the administration of justice. In the fourteenth century Gene- 
ralites were established for the collection of the imposts ; Francis I. 
completed this organization of ancient France by the creation of nine 
great military governments, formed for the most part in the frontier 
provinces, and with a view to the defence of the kingdom. These 
governments were those of Normandy, Gruienne, Languedoc, Provence, 
Dauphine, Burgundy, Champagne, Picardy, and He de France. f The 
power was thus centralized more and more. There still existed, 
The Bourbons however some great feudal houses. The first among 
and the Guises. a ]| wag jfagj. Q f Bourbon, the issue of the blood royal, 
which had just been weakened by the disgrace of the celebrated 
Constable, which extinguished the eldest branch ; the marriage of 
Antoine of Vendome, chief of the younger branch, with Jeanne 
d'Albret, heiress of Beam, of Armagnac, of the county of Foix, and 
the kingdom of Navarre, raised the fortunes of the family. As well 
as the Bourbons another princely family grew great, the Cruises, a 
branch of the sovereign House of Lorraine. Claude, fifth son of Duke 
Bene of Lorraine, had made himself illustrious in the service of 

* Savoy and Piedmont, divided between France and Spain in virtue of the treaty of 
Nice, were restored in the year 1562 to the princes of the House of Savoy, except some 
towns which remained annexed to France until 1574. 

f At the time of the French revolution the number of the governments in the pro- 
vinces was thirty-two. 


France. To recompense him, Francis I. erected the lands of Guise 
into a Duchy and Peerage in his favour. He soon perceived the 
error he had committed in establishing that foreign race in the 
kingdom, and we have seen how, on his death-bed, he advised his son 
to separate it from the government; but it was too late, and never 
were vassals more formidable to the Kings of France than the 
ambitious Lorrains. The foreign Houses of Cleves and Savoy had, 
like that of Lorraine, possessions in France. The first ■ 

' L Possession of 

possessed the counties of Eu, Nevers, and Bethel ; the forei s n pnnces. 
second, the Duchy of Nemours, in Gatinais ; and the third, that of 
Bar, held under the crown. Calais always belonged to the English ; 
Avignon and the county Venaissin belonged to the Pope ; and the 
Principality of Orange belonged to the House of Nassau. 

There were still considerable fiefs held in France ; but, with the 
exception of the Bourbons and Guises, the great Feudal _ 

i ' ° Transformation 

system, rival of the crown, almost always in a struggle of Feudalism. 
with it, and very often formidable, existed no longer. The great 
French barons had lost the most part of their regal rights which 
the crown had nearly everywhere reserved ; they had ceased to coin 
money, to exercise legislative power, to make war on their own 
account, and found their judicial powers restrained by the royal 
judges. All political power was taken from them, but a brilliant 
bondage was offered them at the court, and Francis L, in forcing them 
to' seek his favour as the source of riches and power, had commenced 
the work of Louis XTY. 

Another course concurred towards the same end, manners were 
softened and minds enlightened. In the course of mi „ 

° The Renaissance 

the Italian expeditions, the knights of Charles VIII, and its influence, 
of Louis XII. , and Francis I., had brought back to the depths of their 
Feudal keeps the remembrance and the taste for the elegant 
civilisation which flourished beyond the Alps, and it could be said 
of conquered Italy, as formerly of Athens, that she ruled her con- 
querors. The fall of Constantinople had spread abroad throughout 
Europe, at the same time, the chief works of antiquity, and printing, 
scarcely discovered, soon multiplied them to infinity. They formed 
the delight of the sixteenth century, and a new world was revealed 
to the sons of men, in the Middle Ages. With the treasures or 

13 B 

370 CELEBRATED MEN. [Eook I. Chap. II 

Greek and Latin literature, the chief works of antique art were 
drawn from the dust where they had lain forgotten, and before these 
great models, a young school of painters, of sculptors, and ol 
architects was formed, which in its turn produced new marvels. It 
was this return to the healthy traditions of taste, and this restoration 
of the beautiful, after so many centuries of darkness and barbarity, 
that was called the Renaissance. 

Francis I., above all the princes of Europe, and this was his 
greatest glory, encouraged this grand movement of the human mind. 
His mother, Louisa of Savoy, had died, leaving the prodigious sum 
of fifteen hundred thousand gold crowns, the fruit of her exactions 
and sordid economy. This treasure passed almost entirely into the 
hands of poets and artists ; but Francis I. had too exalted a soul to 
believe that gold was sufficient to recompense genius, and it was by 
his respect and by honours, that he expressed his admiration for the 
great men whom he loved to have around him. It was thus that he 
named Leonardo da Yinci his father, and that he wished to close his 
eyes. Inspired by his charming* sister, Marguerite of 

Celebrated men JL \ J . °. ' . & 

in arts, literature, Navarre, who herself cultivated literature with success, 

and science. . 

he drew into France a great number of literary and 
artistic celebrities. Some, like the learned Lascaris, were Greek ; 
Others, like the poet Alamanni, and the historian Michael Bruto, were 
illustrious exiles from the republics of Italy. In the first rank of 
Italian celebrities called into France, Leonardo da Yinci might be 
distinguished ; William Cop, principal physician to the King, was a 
Swiss. Among the number of Frenchmen whose works he encou- 
raged, must be cited the learned William Bude, first professor of 
philology in France ; the brothers Bellay, negotiators and historians ; 
the poet Clement Masot, and the great printer, Henry Estienne. 
About this time also, the celebrated Rabelais, Cure of Meudon, wrote 
his satirical works. Dumoulin, Cujas, great jurisconsults, might then 
have been heard, and the chief works of the sculptors John Goujon, 
Germain Pilon, and John Cousin, sculptor and painter on glass, might 
have been admired. Pierre Lescot commenced the new Louvre and 
Philibert Delorme the Tuileries. Under the eyes of Francis I. arose, 
in part, the Palaces of Fontainbleau and Chambord. But among all 
his creations those which threw most brilliancy on his reign were Vhq 

1526-1550] THE RENAISSANCE. 371 

foundation of the royal printing office, and that of the College of France, 
then called the Royal College. Until this period the Sorbonne and 
the University of Paris had alone the right of spreading 1 

J m o ± o Foundation of 

knowledge abroad. Chairs of Greek and Hebrew, next th e College of 

° France. 

of Latin eloquence, and of the Arabian and Chaldean 
languages were first created ; mathematics, medicine, and Greek 
philosophy had their professors in due course. The King desired to 
place at the head of this college the celebrated Erasmus, the finest 
mind, and the most learned man of his century, but he could not 
seduce him by his offers. Francis I., by his cultivated tastes, by his 
laudable efforts, and his noble aspirations, associated himself with 
all hie strength in the great movement of the Renaissance, he thus 
raised himself in the eyes of posterity, who without that perhaps, 
and in spite of all the interest which his heroism, his bravery, and his 
misfortunes inspired, would have inclined rather to look upon him as a 
despot, without scruple, without breeding, and without pity. Happy 
are the Kings who love literature 

B B 2 





Henry II., son of Francis I., was twenty-nine years of age when lie 
. ascended the throne. He despised the counsels of his 

Accession of - 1 

Henry ii., 1547. father, changed the counsellors of the Crown, and 
recalled near to him the Constable Montmorency, whom he named 
his gossip, and who ruled him'during all his reign. The Duchess of 
Etampes was exiled and sent back to her husband ; her partisans only 
redeeming themselves from death, prison, or exile by ceding their 
castles, their lands, and their offices to the new favourites. The 
Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, his brother ; Mont- 
morency ; Diana of Poitiers, styled the Mistress of the King ; lastly, 
the Queen, Catherine de Medici, endowed with a supple and pro- 
foundly dissimulating mind, were at the head of each of the four 
factions which divided the court. 

One of the first edicts of the new king condemned blasphemers to 
„ . .. A have the tongue pierced with a red-hot iron, and heretics 

Despotic edicts. ° r 

to be burnt alive. Another edict assigned to the 
prevots of the marshals, assisted by a commission of judges chosen in 
the tribunals, the trial of assassins, smugglers, poachers, and people 
who were not known. This edict despoiled the parliament of its 
special attributes and delivered over the lives of the citizens to 
arbitrary judgment. The magistrates made ineffectual remon- 
strances ; but, compelled to yield, they registered it with this clause : 
in consequence of the malice of the time. A serious revolt broke out in 
the provinces of Outre- Loire, where the tax upon salt had been 
recently established by Francis I. Poitou and Guienne rose ; at 

Bordeaux, above all, the populace committed great ex- 
Revolts in Poitou ' 5 r r o 

and Guienne, cesses. They repulsed the garrison of the Chateau 
Trompette and massacred its commandant, whose body 

1547-1559] BORDEAUX PUNISHED. 373 

they tore into pieces. The King promised justice and satisfaction ; 
the people were appeased, and the parliament punished the seditions. 
Montmorency was charged by the King to render the justice which 
he had promised, or rather to exercise his vengeance upon them. 
"Behold my keys" said he to the Bordelais, showing them his guns; 
and he entered Bordeaux as into a conquered city. All the bourgeois, 
tried by commission, perished by executions ; all colonels of the 
communes were broken on the wheel alive, with a crown of red-hot 
iron upon their heads. The whole town, attainted and convicted of 
felony, lost its privileges ; its bells were taken down, and the fronts 
of the walls ; a hundred and twenty of the principal inhabitants were 
condemned to dig up with their nails the body of the slaughtered 
officer, and the inhabitants paid two hundred thousand livres for the 
expenses of the expedition. Montmorency visited the district more 
as an executioner than a judge of the provinces which had revolted^ 
and everywhere his passage was marked by gibbets. Bordeaux only 
recovered its privileges in the following year. 

France had hardly taken breath for a year, when war broke out 
anew. Henry II. supported Ottavio Farnese, Duke of r 
Parma, against Pope Julius III. and the Emperor. The declares war 

7 o tr c agam>t the Pope 

latter, without disquietude on the part of France, had a^nhe Emperor, 
gained, in 1547, the famous battle of Muhlberg over the 
confederates of Smalcalde. The venerable Frederic, Elector of 
Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse, had fallen into his power. 
Charles V. compelled the former to cede his Electorate, which 
he gave to Maurice of Saxony, son-in-law of the Landgrave. Ger- 
many was yielding, and the Protestant League had no other hope than 
in France ; it implored the support of Henry II., who granted it on 
condition that he should occupy the town of Cambrai and the three 
bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, to guard them as TT 

x ' ' ' o He seizes the 

vicar of the Empire. He soon seized them; then, SS^TcSi'and 
placing on his flag, as the symbol of liberty, a red cap Verdun > lo ° 2 - 
between two daggers, he declared himself the defender of German 
independence and protector of the captive princes ; but, following the 
example of his father, condemning at home that which he encouraged 
among foreigners, he caused the Edict of Chateaubriand to be pub- 
lished, which aggravated all the punishments of heretics, authorized 


secret prosecutions regarding individual opinions, and established an 
inquisitor of the faith. 

An unexpected success rendered the support of Henry II. un- 
necessary to the Lutherans of Germany. Young Maurice of Saxony, 
cried down in his country as a traitor and usurper, preferred the role 
of Chief of the Protestants to that of a creature of Charles V. 
A profound dissimulation covered his projects. When he believed 
. himself strong enough, he raised the mask and marched 

Reverses of o © ' 

Charles v. j n f orce d journeys upon Inspruck, where the emperor, 

ill and almost alone, was nearly taken by surprise. Compelled to 

' . yield, Charles signed, with the Protestants, the Con- 

Convention of *> 7 ° ' 

Passau. 1552. vention of Passau, changed three years later, at the 
Diet of Augsburg, into a definite peace. The era of religious liberty 
in Germany dates from that tiine. 

France had no part in these great events ; but she preserved the 
price of her alliance, in keeping the three bishoprics, in spite of the 
efforts of the emperor to take them. Hostilities were still prolonged 
„ '. . , between that prince and Henry II. for three years, with 

Continuation of r J J ' 

Uw'n 6 * varied success, in Piedmont, Italy, Corsica, upon the 

France 6 aud frontiers of the North and East, and on the sea. The 

principal events of the war were : — the immortal defence 
of Metz by the Duke of Guise, in 1552, against Charles V., who 

besieged that place with a hundred thousand soldiers 

Military oppra- ° 

tions, 1552-1555. an( j a formidable artillery ; the raising of that siege 
when the emperor lost forty thousand men ; the invasion of Picardy 
by the imperial army, and of Hainault by the French army ; the 
conquest of Hesdin by Henry II.; the loss of Therouenne, which 
Charles V. razed to the ground; the battle of Renti, in Flanders, 
between these two sovereigns — a glorious combat, but of little advan- 
tage to the French, where Guise, Coligny, and Tavannes distin- 
guished themselves ; lastly, the defence of Sienna by Montluc, the 
ravaging of the coasts of Italy by Dragut, an Ottoman admiral allied 
with the French, and the fine campaign made in Piedmont against 
the Duke of Alba by Marshal Brissac, the most humane among the 
generals of his time. 

After these wars, the advantages of which were equally balanced, 
and in the course of the great troubles in Germany caused by the death 

ment of the 
religious peace, 

1547-1559] DIET OF AUGSBURG. 375 

of Maurice of Saxony, and the rivalry between Charles Y. and his 
brother Ferdinand, King* of the Romans and hereditary sovereign of 
Bohemia, there was opened at Augsburg a celebrated D? tof 
Diet, which ought to have followed immediately after Au s sbur £> 1555. 
the Convention of Passau. The emperor, burdened with his affairs 
and maladies, left the presidency of the Diet to his brother Ferdinand, 
whose language on that occasion was very different from that which 
he ordinarily used. " They could no longer expect," said he, " from 
a General Council a religious peace which the Council of Trent had 
not been able to establish, and it would be still more difficult to bring 
the German ecclesiastics to an unanimity of feeling in a national 
council ; it was, then, from the Diet itself that it was necessary to 
demand this work of prudence and of charity." The Diet then took 
into consideration the state of religion. It was decreed that the 
Catholic and Protestant States should exercise their Ce]ebrated 
worship in freedom; that the Catholic clergy should for^VstaSSt 
renounce all spiritual jurisdiction over the States 
professing the Confession of Augsburg ; that the 
ecclesiastical goods seized before the Treaty of Passau should be left 
to their actual possessors ; that the civil power of each State should 
regulate its doctrine and religion, but that it should give entire 
liberty to every German who would not conform to the regulations to 
retire in peace whither he pleased with his fortune. Such was, in 
great part, the decree of tne Diet of Augsburg of the 25th of September, 
1555, and upon it, for a long time, the religious peace of Germany 
reposed. This decree struck a fatal blow at the policy of Charles V. 
whose object was always to maintain the unity of the Church 
under his sole dependence. Tormented by his disgraces as much as 
by his infirmities, incapable of work, and convinced that all would 
perish when he could not direct everything himself, he convoked the 
Chiefs of the Low Countries at Brussels, and there, on the 25th of 
October, 1555, he solemnly abdicated his hereditary crown, and 
placed it in the hands of Philip II., his son. He still AM ; cation of 
held the Imperial crown for six months ; then he ^5 rlesV '' 
retired to the Convent of the Hieronymites of Saint Just, 
where he died, after having caused the Office for the Dead to be sung 
around his coffin while he was still living. His brother Ferdinand, 


King of the Romans, was his successor in the empire. Philip II. had 
married, in the preceding year, Mary, Queen of England, daughter of 
Henry VIII. and of Catherine of Aragon. Husband and wife vied 
with each other throughout their possessions in supporting Catholicism 
by the Inquisition and by funeral piles. 

As soon as Philip had ascended the throne, Henry II. signed a 
Contradictory "treaty with him at Vaucelles, of which the principal 
SfeTand Rome c ^ aiise was a truce of five years. The people received 
355d ' the news with transport ; but their joy was short. It was 

from Rome that the new germs of discord arose. A contradictory 
treaty had been concluded between Henry and the Pope, some 
months before that of Vaucelles. Paul IV., whom his nephews, the 
Caraffi, urged on to outrageous severities, in order to provoke to 
their profit confiscations, and to stir up a war between the Empire 
and France, suspected Charles V., before his abdication, with 
having wished to kill him ; he declared him a poisoner in full con- 
sistory, and invited Henry II. to avenge him, promising to him, by a 
treaty signed at Rome, the investiture of the kingdom of Naples. 

Two parties then divided the Court of France ; the one, stimulated 

by the Cardinal Caraffa, nephew of the Pope, demanded the carrying 

out of the treaty of Rome ; the other, the maintenance of that of 

Vaucelles. All the young nobility wished for war ; Montmorency 

was inclined for peace, and, partaking in this respect 

Re-commence- . . .__. 

ment of iiostiii- the wishes of the people, he wisely advised the King to 

ties, 1557. ... 

maintain it. Hostilities broke out suddenly between the 
Pope and the Spaniards, and war was resolved upon. 

A French army, under the orders of the Constable and his nephew, 
Coligny, entered into Artois, and another into Italy, under the Duke 
of Guise. The first gave battle near Saint Quentin, to Philibert, 
Batti of Saint ^ u ^ e of Savoy, chief of the Spanish and English forces ; 
Qumtin, 1558. ^ wag completely vanquished through the fault of the 
Constable Montmorency. A charge of cavalry which the Counts 
of Egmont and Horn commanded, decided the victory. The French 
lost ten thousand men, their baggage, and the convoys, the road 
to Paris was open ; the indecision of the conquerors saved France 
from great disasters. Guise was soon re-called from Italy, and 
signalised his return by a memorable exploit ; he surprised Calais and 

1547-1559] ' BATTLE OF GRAVEL1NES. 377 

took possession of it. This town, which had so often 

. The Duke of 

introduced foreigners into the kingdom, had remained Guise retakes 

. Calais, 1558. 

for two hundred and ten years in the power of the 
English. France lost in the same year the battle of Gravelines, when 
the old Marshal Thermes was conquered by the Count of Egmont. 
These two events were followed by the peace of Cateau- _ . ., „ _ 

J L Battle of Grave- 

Cambresis, signed in 1559. It was called The TJnfor- rfCatiaSc^ 
tunate Peace. Henry II. gave up his conquests with wars inTtai? th ° 
the exception of the three bishoprics ; he renounced all 15 ° 8 ' 
his rights upon Genoa, Corsica, the kingdom of Naples, and only 
retained in Piedmont Pignerol, and some fortresses. This treaty, far 
from glorious, but necessary, terminated the wars in Italy. Their 
principal results have been to hold in check the House of 
Austria, and to prevent it from subduing Germany by 
occupying its forces in Italy. They initiated the French in the 
progress of civilization and of the arts in that country, and also in its 
corrupt policy, without permitting it to make any durable establish- 
ment ; they increased and fortified the royal authority, and rendered 
it absolute by the continual employment of numerous armies, per- 
manent and paid. These wars were prolonged over four reigns, and 
lasted sixty-five years. 

France would have been happy, if it had known how to turn to 
profit this peace with the foreigner. Its finances were exhausted, 
and Henry, in order to provide for the expenses of the war and 
those of a prodigal aud dissolute court, had recourse to deplor- 
able expedients. He sold by auction the offices of the presidials 
or inferior tribunals, which he created and multiplied in the 
provinces. He established with the same aim and bv 

* . J Sale of offices. 

the same means a Parliament in Brittany, caused an 

edict of inquisition to be bought by the clergy, sold a multitude of 

new offices, ordered that the titles or provisions of a -„ . 

* Exactions of 

crowd of public officers should be revised, and compelled Hem 'y IL 
them to buy them anew ; he authorised the towns extraordinarily 
taxed to create annuities upon themselves ; lastly, he dared to give 
the name of States- General to an assembly of notable persons, chosen 
by himself aud devoted to his will, and he disguised under the name 
of loans, the taxes that he exacted from them. 


The Edict of Inquisition which he sold to the clergy was not 
executed. Already, however, the Inquisitor, Matthew Ori, had 
been named by the Pope; but the Parliament of Paris made an 
energetic resistance. This was not because it felt any pity for 
the Sectarians; its severities against them were excessive; but it 
Was jealous of its rights, and did not wish that another tribunal 
should have the privilege of prosecuting heresy and punishing it. 
Henry did not support his edict and the inquisition did not take 
root in France. 

The foreign war had, towards the end of this reign, wrought some 

relaxation in the Catholic persecutions. The Protestants grew bold, 

religious zeal served as a mask to the ambition of 

Progress of Pro- 

testantismin some ; many princes of the Blood Royal, and with them 

illustrious warriors and magistrates embraced the new 

belief. Taking confidence in their forces, they assembled openly in 

Paris itself. The promenade of the Pre aux Clercs was 

the I'leuux used as their place of meeting ; there they would be met 


singing ma loud voice the Psalms, translated into French 
by Clement Marot. 

The court and the clergy feared above all that the Parliament, 
Exhortation of charged with the punishment of heresy, would not allow 
SwrSinetoT 10 ' itself to be forced. The powerful Cardinal of Lorraine 
iienry ii. then persuaded the King that it was necessary that he 

should summon the Parliament to the throne, in order to propose 
a Mercuriale for the purpose of censuring many magistrates who 
adhered to the doctrine of Luther, and allowed those convicted of 
heresy to escape without condemning a single one to death ; which 
was contrary to the decree of the late King, who prescribed them to 
be burnt and reduced to ashes. " Then that would only show," said 
the Cardinal, " to the King of Spain that you are firm in the faith ; 
further, you ought to do it boldly and promptly, for the purpose of 
giving pleasure to the Princes and Lords of Spain who have accom- 
panied the Duke of Alba, in order to solemnize and give honour to the 
marriage of their King with madame your daughter. I recommend the 
death of a half-dozen counsellors at least, who must be burnt in 
public, like heretic Lutherans, as they are, and who destroy that 
excellent body the Parliament. But if you do not adopt these 

1547-1559] AEREST OF ANNE OP BOURG. 379 

means, all the court will soon be infected, even to the ushers, proctors, 
and clerks of the palace." The King listened to this advice and 
made arrangements to call together the Parliament on the morrow ; 
but having, in the evening, communicated his project to his counsellor, 
Vieilleville, the latter gave advice that he should leave the matter to 
the Cardinal of Lorraine, and the Bishop of Paris. " It belongs to 
the priests," said he, " to do that which belongs to the office of the 
priest ; if you go, Sire, to perform the office of a theologian or 
inquisitor of the faith, the Cardinal of Lorraine must come -to teach 
you how to run in the lists, and how to manage weapons. Further, 
Sire, you will mingle sadness with joy ; for to cause executions of 
justice so sanguinary and cruel in the midst of the wedding fes- 
tivities, would be a bad augury." The King accepted these reasons, 
and said that he would not go ; but the Cardinal of Lorraine, hearing 
of this resolution, entered in fury. Vieilleville relates also, in his 
memoirs, the continuation of this tragic event. " At the rising of the 
King," he says, "the Cardinals of Bourbon, Lorraine, of Guise, and 
of Pelve, the Archbishops of Sens, and of Bourges, the Bishops of 
Senlis, three or four doctors of Sorbonne, and the inquisitor of the 
faith, who threatened him so strongly with the anger of God, that he 
thought himself already damned if he did not go. And so he marched 

with all his guards, the drum beating, without forgetting ~ , , t , „ 

a 9 to' to to Celebrated Mcr- 

the Swiss, and the hundred gentlemen of the house, in cunale > 15a0 - 
great magnificence. Having gone down to the Augustincs, where the 
Parliament was assembled, he ascended into the great chamber and 
sat on the throne, under the canopy, and commanded his attorney- 
general to propose the mercurialc. The latter soon attacked five or 
six counsellors, badly disposed to the faith, among whom was one 
Anne of Bonrg, who sustained so audaciously before the King his 
religion to the disparagement of Catholicism, that His Majesty swore, 
in great anger, that he would see him, with his own eyes, burnt alive 
before six days were over, and ordered him to bo taken prisoner to 
the Bastille, with five or six others ; then he rose, 

Arrest of Anne 

ordering the assembly to proceed with the rest. Arrived of&um-g, ami of 

° J * t LouU of Faur, 

at Tournellcs, he repented not having believed M. 15 ^ 

Vieilleville; for in the streets he heard many who murmured at this 

enterprise, on account of the counsellors who had been made prisoners, 


and who were of the better families of Paris, and who administered 
justice to all parties, very conscientiously." * 

The counsellor, Louis of Faur, was in the number of the magistrates 
arrested in their seats. Henry placed them all in the hands of Mont- 
gommery, captain of his guards, and made him give instructions for 
their trial. 

The French Calvinists held at this period their first Synod, and 
„. . „ , ... regulated the constitutions which should maintain in 

First Calvanistic ° 

Synod, 1559. union their scattered societies, and rule them under the 
same discipline. The King received the news in the midst of the 
fetes of the marriage of Elizabeth, his daughter, with Philip II., 
widower of Queen Mary Tudor of England. He swore that he would 
punish those whom he considered as rebels. His death prevented the 
Death of accomplishment of his vow. Wounded in the eye, at a 

Henry ii., 1559. j ous t, by the lance of Montgommery, he died of the 
wound after a reign of twelve years. He left four sons, of whom 
three wore the crown. Francis, the eldest, had married Mary Stuart, 
Queen of Scotland, celebrated as much for her misfortunes as for her 

Henry II. had in his character neither grandeur nor virtue. 
Intimidated by the Guises, and ruled by Montmorency, the slave of 
his mistress and his favourites, he poured out on them the treasures 
of the State, introduced an unrestrained licentiousness into his court, 

* Vieilleville became Marshal of France, and honoured his country by his tolerance, 
and the nobility of his character. Receiving one day a brevet, by which the King 
granted to him and five other gentlemen, among whom were MM. Aphem and de Biron, 
the confiscated goods of all the Lutherans of the countries of Guienne, Limousin, Quercy, 
Perigord, Saintonge and Aunis, of which the product would be at least 20,000 crowns 
for each, he answered, "that he did not wish to enrich himself by so odious and 
sinister a means, that he found in it no trace of dignity, and still less of charity . . . ." 
" Behold us, then, registered in the Courts of Parliament with a reputation of destroyers 
of the people, besides having, for 20,000 crowns each, the curses of an infinity ot 
married women, maidens, and little children, who will die in the hospitals through the 
confiscation, right or wrong, of the persons and goods of their husbands and father's : that 
would be to plunge into the abyss of hell cheaply." That said, he drew his dagger, and 
plunged it into the brevet in the place of his name. M. Aphem, reddening with shame, 
drew his likewise, and across his own appointment ; M. de Biron did not do less. And 
all three went away, drawing each one on his own side without saying a word, leaving 
the brevet to any one who wished to take it, for it had fallen to the ground. (Memoirea 
de Vieilleville.) 

1547-1559] . CHARACTEE OF HENRY II. 381 

already corrupted by his father, he oppressed the people without pity, 
violated the rights of the magistracy, obtained no personal military 
glory, and left the kingdom forty millions in debt.* The ignorance 
and the misery of the people, the increasing embarrassment of the 
finances, the scandals of the court, the Protestant proselytism on the 
one part, and on the other the Catholic intolerance, prepared the 
volcanic field, where great talents and great ambitions came to clash 
together under the following reigns The struggle lasted thirty-six 
years, and covered France with ruins. 

* This sura would be equivalent to 160 millions at the present day, specie then 
having a quadruple value of that existing at the present time. 










F R A N C I S II. 

Francis II. ascended the throne at the age of sixteen years, and under 
this reign and the following one was seen anew the dangers of the 
law formed by Charles V., which "fixed the majority of the Kings at 
their adolescence. The reigns of Charles VI. and Charles VIII. , 
already sufficiently attested that the power, in the young age of the 
Kings, belonged, in spite of their legal majority, to any one who knew 
how to seize it. Under Francis II. there were the Guises, princes of 
the House of Lorraine, and uncles of the young- Queen 

Power of the •> o ~c 

Guises, 1559. Mary Stuart, who divided all the authority with 
Catherine de Medici, one of them, the Cardinal, had a cruel and 
haughty spirit; the other was the famous Francis, Duke of Gruise, 
whose prudence equalled his intrepidity, already illustrated by the 
fine defence of Metz, and the taking of Calais, and dear to the French 
by his great qualities. The two brothers, however, showed themselves 

1559-1574] TRIUMPH OF THE GUISES. 883 

equally ungrateful towards Diana of Poitiers, their benefactress. It 
was by sacrificing her that they bought the favour of Catherine de 
Medici. The characteristic trait of this Queen, who played so great 
a part under the reigns of her three sons, was a profound dissimulation, 
united with an intriguing and corrupt spirit.* Nurtured in^ Italy in 
the school of Macchiavelli, and the Borgias, she set in operation from 
the throne their fatal policy, of which the misfortunes of France 
attested the impotence, while at the same time they unveiled its 
infamy. The party opposed to Catherine and the princes of Lorraine, 
was that of Anthony of Bourbon, King of Navarre, and 

... . Political parties 

of Louis of Conde, his brother, both princes of the Blood 

Royal, issue of Bobert, Count of Clermont, youngest son of Saint 

Louis ; it was to them that the old Constable of Mont- 

Ori.ain of the 

morency, without credit at the court, and disgraced by House of bout- 
the queen-mother, came and rallied against the Guises. 
A great number of French nobles, indignant at seeing all the authority 
usurped by princes of the foreign House of Lorraine, increased the 
party of the royal princes ; secret conferences were held at Yendome, 
between all the Malcontents, the object of which was to convoke the 
States- General, and take away the power from the Guises. The latter, 
informed concerning these hostile projects, and knowing the weakness 
of Anthony of Bourbon, prevented the danger by intimidating that 
prince. Invited by Catherine to defend her government, the King of 
Spain, Philip II., had answered that, should it cost him forty thousand 
men, he would sustain, in Prance, the authority 'of the King and his 
ministers. His letter, read in full council before the King of Navarre, 
frightened that feeble prince, who accepted the mission to conduct to 
the frontier the sister of Francis II., Elizabeth of France, in order to 
place her in the hands of the King of Spain, her husband, and was 
happy so to escape from the peril of his own resolutions. 

The Guises triumphed; they then hastened to work out the 
destruction of Protestantism in France, and caused the trial of the 
counsellor Anne of Bourg to be proceeded with. This great cause 

* She appeared indifferent to power when she was most covetous of it ; incapable 
of a sincere affection, she deceived equally friends and foes. There was for her neither 
security nor pleasure, if she did not incite, renew, or perpetuate discords. (Charles 
Lacratelle, Eistoire de France pendant les gucrres de religion.) 

384 THE BURNING CHAMBER. [Book II. Chap. I. 

Trial f a f ^olcl public attention, not only in Paris, but in Europe. 
Bourg, 1559. rj\^ Q p ro testant party became agitated ; the queen- 
mother received alarming warnings ; many princes of Germany also 
were moved in favour of the accused, and wrote in order to save 
him. The Guises, aware that Bourg would be more formidable 
if he died a martyr to his faith than if he lived abjuring it, set to 
work so that he should consent to recant. The advocate charged 
with his defence confessed in his name that he had offended God and 
the Church, and that he was ready to reconcile himself with it ; the 
judges immediately, and without wishing to hear Bourg himself, held 
council in order to grant his pardon. While they deliberated, a note 
from his hand was delivered to them. Bourg disavowed the conclu- 
sions of his advocate, and persisted in his faith, which he was ready to 
confirm with his blood. From that time his fate was sealed ; still, he 
could not perish without being avenged ; it was unfortunately by an 
assassin. The President, Minard, his enemy, and one of his judges, 
was killed by a pistol-shot. This was the sinister signal 

Assassination of i i i " j_- a , o -i n 

the President lor a bloody persecution, feentence ot death was soon 

Minard. . . 

pronounced against Bourg ; he heard it read with heroic 
constancy, and answered by the cry of the martyrs, " I am a Christian ! 
I am a Christian ! " His eloquent farewell drew tears from his judges. 
„ .. . He was executed on the next day, the 23rd of December ; 

Execution of >> ' ' 

Auneof Bourg. they spared him the pain of the fire, having the grace to 
strangle him before throwing him into the flames. 

The death of Bourg seemed to give a new activity to the persecu- 
tion. The Cardinal of Lorraine designed, as he had already done for 
Francis I., a particular chamber, charged with punishing the 
mu , . reformers. Fire was the chastisement which it pro- 

The burning r 

chamber. nounced against them, and the cruelty of its judgments 

gave to it the frightful nickname of the Burning Chamber. 

The peace of Cateau-Cambresis had left without employment a 
crowd of gentlemen and soldiers, whose only resource was war. A 
great number came to the court to petition, some for that which 
was due to them, and others for pensions and pardons. Impor- 
tuned by their demands and their misery, the Cardinal of Lorraine 
caused a gibbet to be erected, at the entrance to the Chateau of 
Fontainbleau, with a threat that he would hang those petitioners who 

1559-1574] THE CHATILLONS. 385 

had not left the court on the following day. They moved away, but 
they promised to present to the Lorrains * complaints of another 
sort. These men, among whom were many people without name, 
united with the nobles who were enemies to the tyranny of the 
Guises, and formed with them the party of Malcontents, which 
doubled its forces by allying itself with the Protestants. The .latter, 
counted with pride in their ranks the Prince of Conde, a man of heart 
and head, brother of the King of Navarre, and the three 

° . _ ^ . The Chatillons. 

brothers Chatillon, of whom the eldest, Admiral Coligni, 
of austere manners, of an immovable firmness, skilful in repairing his 
reverses without ever despairing, was the most illustrious among the 
Protestant chiefs of France ; Audelot, one of his brothers, celebrated 
for his bravery, commanded the French infantry ; his other brother, 
Odet Chatillon, a skilful diplomatist, had secretly embraced the 
reformed faith and was married, although he was Bishop of Beauvais, 
and Cardinal. The ability of the three brothers, their offices and 
alliances, soon rendered formidable the party which had adopted 
them as chiefs, and who reckoned already on the tacit concurrence of 
the Prince of Conde. 

A vast plot, known in history under the name of the Conspiracy of 
Amboise, was then formed in secret by the enemies of the government, 
Catholic and Protestant. Both one and the other bound n 

Conspiracy of 

themselves by an oath to attempt nothing against the Amboi se, 1560. 
King, the Queen, or the authority of the laws. Their object was to 
carry off the King, to remove him from the influence of the Guises, to 
arrest the latter, and to cause them to be tried as guilty of high 
treason. An adroit and bold gentleman, named Benandi, was chosen 
as the apparent chief of the enterprise, which he conducted with great 
skill. The real chief, known only under the name of the Dumb 
Captain, was the Prince of Conde. From all parts bands of armed 
men were set in movement, without being in the secret of the con- 
spirators. The Guises, under vague suspicion, removed the court from 
the Chateau of Blois to that of Amboise. The conspirators persevered 
in their project with an incredible audacity. An advocate,- named 
Avenelles, a friend of Benandi, revealed their design ; and while this 

* The Guises, Princes of the House of Lorraine, were commonly designated by this 

C C 


news still held the Guises and their court in stupefaction, the 
conspirators, informed of the treachery, marched forward and directed 
the courses of the different bands upon the Chateau of Amboise, on 
the 16th of March, 1560. Already the town was filled with troops 
called together in haste by the Guises. Coligni and Conde found 
themselves both one and the exposed to an extreme defiance. Conde, 
overlooking closely, received the order to defend some posts. 
Combats then took place, and were unfortunate for the conspirators; 
Defeat of the ^ e ^ u ^ ses rusn ed upon a crowd of men, who ran 
conspirators. according to the order of their chiefs and conspirators, 
without knowing the reason why; the party was dispersed and the 
executions began. 

Whatever name is given to this enterprise, whatever motive is 
supposed for it, it was culpable, since it tended to overthrow by 
violence a government legally established. However, the barbarities 
exercised upon the captives, and the constancy with which they held 
firm, excited interest for them and horror for their executioners. The 
vengeances of the Guises were atrocious. The waters of the Loire 
. carried away a multitude of corpses, which floated fastened 

Vengeances of * r ' 

the Guises. together with long poles ; the streets of Amboise ran 

with human blood. The Conspirators marched boldly to death ; some 
were killed without even having heard their sentence. One of the 
principal, the Lord of Castelneau, gave himself up to the Duke of 
Nemours, with fifteen of his companions, on condition that he should 
do them no harm ; the Guises caused them to be condemned like 
the rest. Nemours interposed vainly to save them, they all died. 
Castelneau dipped his hands on the scaffold into the blood of his 
decapitated companions, and, lifting them to Heaven, all wet with 
blood, he cried to God for vengeance upon those who had betrayed 
him, and upon the Chancellor Olivier who had condemned him. The 
latter, secretly attached to the conspirators, had been compelled to 
exercise against them the vengeance of the Guises. " In listening to 
the words of Castelneau, whom he had loved, he wept, and, siezed 
with remorse, he fell ill of an extreme melancholy, which made him 
sigh without ceasing, and murmur against God, afflicting his person 
in a strange and dreadful manner. While he was in this furious 
despair, the Cardinal of Lorraine came to visit him, but he would 

1559-1574] DEATH OF FRANCIS II. 387 

not see him, and turned on the other side, without saying a word; 
when he knew that he was far off," he cried ont : — "Ah! cursed 
Cardinal! you damn yourself and us along with you." Two days 
afterwards he died.* For a month they did nothing but behead, 
hang, and drown. Conde himself was in peril ; he prayed for his 
audacity by justifying himself before the King ; he caused his 
accusers to be silent, but not the suspicions, and civil war appeared 

The two parties met together in arms at Fontainebleau, where the 
Guise had convoked the principal magistrates to consult 
concerning the means of establishing peace. Coligni in Fontainebleau, 
this assembly presented uselessly a petition in the name 
of fifty thousand Belisionaires^ who supplicated that temples should 
be granted to them, and the permission to pray to God according to 
their hearts. The assembly requested the States- General, and the 
Princes of Lorraine acquiesced in this wish. On both sides plots 
were woven. Orleans had been fixed upon as the place of meeting 
for the States; the King betook himself there with a S(atesof Orleans 
threatening display. The two Bourbon Princes were 1560- 
drawn there by the Guises. The King of Navarre ran the risk of 
his life in an audience which Francis II. gave him, and 

C-i / -, . . . . , -, ., Condemnation of 

onde was made prisoner. A commission, appointed by the Prince of 

the Guises, and presided over by Christopher of Thou, 

father of the historian, condemned Conde to lose his head. The 

death of the feeble Francis II., whom a disease of 

Death of Fran- 

exhaustion consumed away, prevented the execution of cisIL >i560. 
the prince. 

This reign finished under the most, sinister auspices. If one man 
could have conjured down the tempest that was about to burst, it 
would have been the wise and virtuous Michael of the Hospital, 
ancient superintendent of the finances, and successor to Olivier in 
charge of the chancellorship of the kingdom; he belonged to those 
men who present a beautiful type in the moral order, and who seem 
born to soften down the evils of humanity. J He made the greatest 

* De Vieilleville, Memoires. 

+ All those of the reformed religion were designated by this name. ~ 

X ''He was," says Brautome, "another Cato the Censor, who knew very well hew 

c c 2 

Accession of 
Charles IX. 15G0. 


efforts to prevent the Guises from introducing into France the 
execrable tribunal of the Inquisition, but he could only succeed in it 
Edict of Rom - ^y Polishing the Edict of Romorantin, which attributed 
rantm, 1560. ^ -j-j^ p re i a tes of the kingdom the knowledge of the 

crimes of heresy (May, 1560). The Parliament modified this Edict 
before registering it, and permitted the laity to have recourse to the 
judge royal. 


Charles IX. was only ten years old when he succeeded his brother, 
Francis II. The States- General were still assembled 
at Orleans, and only took a feeble part in political 
affairs ; however, it decreed the regency to Catherine of Medicis, and 
recognised the King of Navarre in his quality as Lieutenant- General 
of the Kingdom. The Chancellor L'Hospital exercised a wise 
influence upon the States, and he leant upon them in order to cause 
the ordinance called that of Orleans to be issued. It was celebrated 
for the excellent arrangements touching ecclesiastical matters, the 
administration of justice, and the police of the kingdom. This 
ordinance re-established the ordinances proscribed by the Pragmatic 
Sanction for the election of the bishops ; but its arrangements in this 
respect were not observed for any length of time. L'Hospital had 
refused to sign the arrest which condemned to death the prince of 
Conde. Medicis, by her counsel, declared Conde innocent of the 
crime of which he was accused, and Montmorency was recalled to 
the court, where, nevertheless, the Guises remained powerful and 

The queen-mother played fast and loose between the two parties, 
at one time relying on the Guises and the Catholics, and at another 
attaching herself to the Protestants and the Bourbons against the 
Guises. The latter sought the support of the gloomy and cruel 
Philip II., King of Spain, the firmest champion of Catholicism in the 

to reprove and correct the corrupt world. He showed it in all his outward appearance, 
with his great white beard, his pale face, and his grave expression, so that one would 
have said that to see him, was to see a true portrait of Saint Hierosone : so said many 
at the Court." 

1659-1574] - CONFERENCE OF POISSY. 389 

whole of Europe, and who already, under the preceding reign, had 
declared himself protector of the kingdom of France. The Guises 
felt equally the want of again attaching to themselves the Constable. 
They knew that in the eyes of this old warrior, all interest disappeared 
before that of the Catholic religion. They showed to him that it was 
in peril, and he entered into their views. The Marshal of Saint 
Andre was also gained over to the side of the Lorraine princes, and 
formed, with the Constable and Francis of Guise, a The Triumvirate> 
league which received the name of the Triumvirate. 


Then appeared an edict, dated in the month of July, which granted 
to the Protestants an amnesty for the past, and ordered them to live 
in the Catholic religion, nnder pain of prison and exile ; Ef1ict of Jul 
death would no longer be pronounced against them. 156 • 
This edict only made malcontents, and was never observed. The 
Queen endeavoured to bring together Francis of Guise and Conde ; 
they embraced each other, bnt remained mortal enemies. 

The States- General assembled in the course of the year at Pontoise. 
The electors were assembled by province, and not by states f 
bailiwick, and each of the thirteen provinces having Pontolse ' 156L 
only named one deputy from each order, thirty-nine members alone 
sat in the States. They voted for the election of the prelates by the 
chapters, and the abolition of the Annates, and caused the greater 
part of the public offices to fall to the clergy. That order, fearing the 
most severe measures with regard to its immense wealth, taxed itself 
with fifteen millions, which it offered as a free gift. In the meantime, 
a celebrated assembly was held, under the name of the „ . 

J ' Conference of 

Conference of Poissy. Anxious to cause his eloquence Poiss y> 1561 - 
and erudition to shine, the Cardinal of Lorraine had invited the 
Protestant ministers and Calvin himself to open with him and the 
Catholic bishops' conferences, where the principal points of the two 
religions should be dilated. Poissy was designated as the scene of 
this theological struggle. Many French cardinals, forty bishops, and 
a great number of doctors appeared there ; not more than twelve 
Protestant ministers were there. Calvin did not present himself; he 
sent in his place Theodore of Beza, the most distinguished of his 
disciples. The discussion finished like all theological disputes ; each 
pne remained more firmly fixed than ever in his own opinion. 

390 MASSACRE OF VASST. [Book II. Chap. I. 

. The Edict of July was not observed in any part ; the Protestants 
braved it openly, and nnited together in a great number of places. 
Catherine of Medicis then gave an order to all the parliaments to 
appoint deputies who should assist in forming an edict more suitable 
to the circumstances. This new assembly was presided over by 
Efforts of the L'Hospital, who spoke these beautiful words : — " Try 
l "Hospital to an( ^ nn( ^ ou V sa ^ ne ? " if a man can be a good subject 
secure peace. f ^ e ^ n g w £thout being a Catholic, and if, after all, it 

is impossible for men who are not of the same belief to live in peace 
with each other, do not then tire yourselves with searching as to 
which religion is the best ; we are here, not to establish the faith, but 
to regulate the State." 

The wise Edict of January was the result of the efforts of the chan- 
Edict of eel] or. It was therein decreed that the Calvinists should 

January 08 !^ £^ ve U V ^ ne usurped churches, the crosses, the images and 

^he relics, and that they should submit to the collection 
of tithes ; it ordered them to keep the fete days, and to respect the ex- 
terior acts of the Catholic religion. It permitted them, nevertheless, 
to meet together, in order to exercise their religion outside the towns, 
and without arms ; it enjoined upon the magistrates to watch lest 
they caused any disturbances. The parliaments of Rouen, Toulouse, 
Bordeaux, and Grenoble, with little difficulty registered the Edict; 
that of Burgundy resisted it ; those of Paris, Landguedse, and 
Dauphine offered a long resistance. This celebrated Edict was 
welcomed by the Calvinists with an enthusiasm which doubled their 
confidence ; while the Catholics received it in a stern and mournful 
silence. The peace that it maintained between them was of short 
duration ; each party strengthened and prepared itself for war. The 
Guises had drawn to them the King of Navarre, whom Philip II. 
flattered by promising to him Sardinia ; while Conde, his brother, 
declared himself chief of the Protestants, towards whom the queen- 
mother appeared then to incline. The Catholics, alarmed at the 
favour which Conde enjoyed, called Guise to Paris. He hastened 
from Joinville, and passed through the little town of Yassy, in 

Champagne, at the time when the Protestants were 

Massacre of j. o 

Vassy, 1562. assembled in worship. His fanatical troops fell upon 

them sword in hand j the Duke of Guise was wounded in the cheek 

1559-1574] • ADMIRAL COLIGNY. 391 

in the tumult, and sixty Calvinists were slaughtered ; this massacre 
became the signal for war. 

Guise entered Paris as a conqueror, amid -the cheers of the people; 
Catherine, jealous and troubled concerning her influence, drew nearer 
to the Protestants, without giving herself opening to them. The 
two parties, in arms, watched each other for many days in Paris, and 
the Queen, in order to prevent the shedding of blood, arranged with 
their chiefs, Guise and Conde, that they should leave the capital ; 
they obeyed, but this was in order to unite their partisans and to 
prepare themselves for war. 

However, the great captain who was then in France, the firmest 
supporter of reform, the Admiral Coligny, hesitated to take up arms ; 
his brothers, the Cardinal of Chatillon and Audelot, pressed him 
to join ; but he himself thought over all the evils of civil war ; 
he thought with fear of the number of his adversaries, and the 
weakness of his party and the greatness of the peril. For two days 
he resisted, when he was awakened at night by the sobs of his wife. 
It was not on account of herself that she wept, but on account of her 
husband's wish to abandon his brothers in Jesus Christ, whom she 
looked upon beforehand as men condemned to die by executions. 
" To be wise for men," said she, "is not to be wise for God, who 
has given you the science of captain for the service of his children." 
Coligni related to her all his just motives and fears, and added : — 
"Place your hand upon your heart, sound well your conscience, and 
see if you can put up with general disasters, the outrages of your 
enemies, the treachery of your own side, flight, exile, your hunger, 
and that which is harder, that of your children, perhaps, even your 
death by an executioner, after having seen your husband dragged 
along and exposed to the ignominy of the vulgar ****.! 
give you three weeks to try you." " These three weeks are passed," 
replied that heroic women ; " you will never be conquered by the 
virtue of your enemies ; use your own, and do not have upon your 
head the deaths of three weeks."* Coligny departed on the following 
day with his brothers and joined Conde. 

The prince thought of making himself master of the person of 
Charles IX., the Triumvirate prevented him ; they removed the 

* Daubigne, Notice sur Coligni. 

392 THE HUGUENOTS. [Book II. Chap. I. 

First civil war young king to Pontainebleau, and conducted him to 
1562, Paris, where Catherine herself accompanied him. The. 

Constable could no longer restrain his fanatical zeal ; he advanced 
into the Faubourgs at the head of his troops, attacked the Protestant 
churches, and with his own hand set fire to their temples, which were 
consumed amid the joyous and barbarous criqs of the populace. It 
was thus that the first war was declared. Conde, Admiral Coligny, 
and his brother Audelot, hastened immediately to Orleans, and 
assembled there their forces. Both sides had recourse to foreign 
aid ; the Guises were supported by the King of Spain, and they 
Alliance of the bought, at the price of the town of Turin, the support 
£SSf wM of the Duke of Savoy; the Calvinists negotiated with 
Elizabeth; they wished to sell to her Dieppe and Havre, 
and called into Prance a body of German knights, known by the 
name of Beitres, a great number of nobles, besides the Chatillons, 
embraced their side ; among their ranks might be distinguished 
Anthony of Croi, La Rochefoucauld, Rohan, Montgommery, Gramont, 
the one drawn by the true zeal for reform, the others by their hate of 
the Guises, and by the chances which a civil war offers to all who 
are ambitious. The army of the Huguenots,* or Protestants, was 
remarkable for its fine and severe discipline. No games of hazard, 
0.0 women of bad reputation, and no marauders were to be seen 
there ; swearing was rigorously forbidden ; ministers went amongst the 
companies and conversed there with religious enthusiasm ; but under 
this austere exterior fermented a fanatacism as gloomy and as cruel 
as that of the Catholic army. Woe to the vanquished ! Woe to the 
towns taken by either one or the other army ! The most frightful 
atrocities were committed by them in cold blood. Beaugency was 
carried by assault by the Protestants ; Blois, Tours, Poitiers, and 
Rouen experienced first all the fury of this atrocious war. The 
town of Rouen, defended by Montgommery, the involuntary murderer 
of Henry II., had been besieged by the King of Navarre, Anthony of 
Bourbon, who was slain under its walls. The only glory in this 
prince is that he was an ancestor of Henry IY. of Prance. 

* They began then in France to give 'the name of Huguenots to the reformer, 1 ?, by 
which name they distinguished themselves. This word comes from the German word 
cidgenossen, which signifies confederates, and which they used among themselves. 

1559-1574] DEATH OF FRANCIS OF GUISE. 393 

Of all the great towns of France which, he had taken, Conde only 
possessed Lyons and Orleans, when the two armies, the one com- 
manded by that prince, and the other by the Constable, met together 
near to Dreux. They engaged in battle, which was sanguinary. The 
Constable charged first impetuously ; his squadrons were Battl of Dr 
broken by Coligny ; -Montmorency, surrounded on all 1562- 
sides, remained a prisoner ; the Marshal of Saint Andre was killed in 
going to his assistance. One part of the Catholic army took to 
flight, and the Protestants dispersed themselves in pursuit of the 
vanquished. Then Francis of Guise, up to that time immovable 
with his cavalry, ran his eyes rapidly over the field of battle. " They 
are ours ! " he cried, and plunged in' a gallop upon the astonished 
Protestants. This unexpected charge decided the victory ; Conde 
himself was made prisoner. This new triumph, the captivity of the 
Constable, and that of Conde, the death of Anthony of Bourbon, and 
of Marshal Saint Andre, rendered Francis of Guise the most 
powerful man in the kingdom. He was appointed Lieutenant- 
General, and hastened to march upon Orleans, the siege of which 
he pressed. This was the end of his success and of his life. A 
Protestant, John Poltrot of Mere, "assassinated him by ~ ., , „ 

' ' J Death of r raucis 

shooting him with a pistol ; his death was the safety of of Gulse ' 15G2 - 
Orleans. Guise terminated his illustrious career by pardoning his 
murderer, and in seeking to justify himself for the massacre of Vassy. 
The assassin, in the midst of the most frightful tortures, designated 
Coligni as his accomplice ; but he varied in his confessions, and the 
grand character of Coligni sufficed to shelter him from the suspicion 
of being an assassin.* Henry, son of Francis of Guise, however, 
received this accusing evidence as a proof, and vowed an implacable 
hatred against the Admiral. 


Desolation weighed heavily upon the towns and the country of 
France ; bands of fierce soldiers covered its soil ; the finances were 
pillaged and commerce destroyed. These calamities, and above all, 
the ascendency which the death of Francis of Guise had given to 

* M. Charles Lacratelle has perfectly appreciated the value of the denudation of 
Poltrot, in his Histoire de France durant les guerres de religion (Book V.) ; the opinion 
which he emits, and the motives on which he supports it, do not appear susceptible of 


Conde, led Catherine to propose peace. The Prince, unknown to 
Coligni, and without sufficient guarantee, which granted to the 
Protestant seignors and nobles the right to exercise their religion in 
their seignories or houses. The bourgeois obtained the liberty of 
conscience ; but they could only exercise their religion in one town of 
each bailiwick and in the places which were in possession of the 
Protestants. The death of the Duke of Gruise had placed the party 
of Conde in a position to dictate peace, and this treaty, called the 
« « . Convention of Amboise, was received with indignation by 

Convention of u ? o «/ 

Amboise, 1563. Coligni, by Calvin, and by the Protestant chiefs. " Be- 
hold ! " said the Admiral, " a dash of the pen which overthrows more 
churches than the enemy's forces could have destroyed in ten years." 

The Protestant army was dissolved and the Retires had returned to 
Germany. Catherine gave them a safe conduct, and attempted to 
cause them to be massacred on the road. This period only presents 
a course of prejudice and cruel vengeances. Montluc, among the 
Catholic chiefs, and the Baron of Adrets, among the Protestants, 
distinguished themselves by their barbarity, " One could recognise ," 
says the former, in his Memoirs, " by which way he had passed ; for the 
signs ivere to be found on the trees by the road-side.'''' The second 
compelled his prisoners to throw themselves from the summit of 
towers on the pikes of the soldiers. 

Peace was taken advantage of, in order to attack the foreigners. 
The Constable, at the head of the rest of the royal army, drove the 
English from Havre, and the clergy paid the expenses of the 
expedition. Its goods, by the advice of L' Hospital, were alienated 
to the value of a hundred thousand crowns per annum. This was 
the first time that such means had been employed in 

First alienation 

of the -nods of or{ j er to provide for the resources of the State. The 

the clergy. * 

expenses of that year were valued at eighteen millions, 
the receipts promised no more than eight, and there was deficit of 
forty-three millions in the Treasury. Charles IX. entered into his 
fifteenth year, and his majority was declared. Catherine preserved 
the power ; Conde forgot himself at the court among pleasures, while 
the Constable, little sought after by the Queen, strove to break the 
peace by exciting the people anew to massacre the Protestants. 
Three hundred death judgments were, it is said, signed by his hand ; 

1559-1574] END OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT. 395 

the Queen baffled this frightful plot. Danville, son of the Constable, 
Governor of Languedoc, Tavannes, Governor of Burgundy, and 
many other commandants of provinces, supported the projects of 
Montmorency. The thunders of the Vatican, the anathemas of the 
Council of Trent, th.3 entreaties of foreign princes, all excited the 
passions of the Catholics, and everything presaged that peace would 
be of short duration. Pope Pius IV. summoned before him many 
French bishops who had been accused of having embraced reform ; 
among this number was Cardinal Chatillon, Saint Bomain, Arch- 
bishop of Aix, and Montluc, Bishop of Valence, brother of the redoub- 
table captain of that name. At the same period Jeanne d'Albret, 
Queen of Navarre, and widow of Anthony of Bonrbon, having 
been suspected and convicted of heresy, a bull declared her deprived 
of her royal dignity, and delivered up the States to the first occupant. 

The Council of Trent approached its end, after having existed 
twenty-one years from its first session. Before dissolv- Last acts and 
ing, it issued some important decisions concerning council of Trent, 
dogmas and discipline. The bishops drew up clear and 56 ' 
precise canons, which defined, in an invariable manner, the articles 
of faith of the Catholics ; but they refused all concession to the 
spirit of the times. France accepted the acts of the council relative 
to dogmas ; it was not the same with regard to dicipline, and many 
articles having been judged, under the opinion of the great juris- 
consult Dumoulin, contrary to the principles of the Gallican Church, 
the Parliament of Paris refused to admit them, and did not allow 
them to be published in the kingdom. The Council was dissolved in 
December, 15G3. 

In the following year the Queen made a voyage to the provinces of 
the east and south, and took with her the King and all his court. State 
affairs were forgotten during this journey, and they passed through 
ruined towns, and devastated country, in the midst of rejoicings, of 
festivals, and spectacles. The Duke of Alba came to visit the 
King at Bayonne, and, in a conversation that he had with the Queen 
on the means of destroying the Calvinists, he used the following 
words, which afterwards became famous : — ■" Ten thousand frogs are 
not worth the head of a salmon." It was in this mannei that ho 
spoke of the principal chiefs of the Protestant party. 

396 BATTLE OF ST. DENIS. [Book II. Chap. I. 

Charles IX., on his return, assembled at Moulins an assembly 
of the principal inhabitants, to which were summoned 

Assembly of 

chief inhabitants for the purpose of conciliation, the Duke of Guise, 

at Moulins, 1564. . 

Admiral Coligni, and a great number of princes and 
seignors , also the presidents of the different parliaments. During 
the session of this assembly, L'Hospital caused many celebrated 
ordinances to be passed, known under the name of the Edicts of 
~ ,. . Moulins. One of them, in eighty-six articles, was a 

Ordinances of ' & J ' 

Moulins, 1564. code of reformation for justice, based on principles full 
of moderation and equity ; another ordinance recalled the ancient 
principles of the monarchy, in so far as it touched the inalien- 
ability of the crown domain ; # but all the efforts of L' Hospital 
failed in bringing together the Guises and the Chatillons. The 
latter had only too much cause for alarm ; everywhere the Conven- 
tion of Amboise was violated by the Catholics, and the infractions 
remained unpunished. Catherine negotiated with Philip II. for the 
destruction of the Protestant chiefs, and redoubled the injurious 
suspicions with regard to them. The creation of the French guards 
dates from this period ; they were composed of ten companies of fifty 
men ; the Swiss guards, created by Louis XI., were at the same time 
strongly augmented. These precautions gave umbrage to the 
Protestants ; they had warning of the project of their enemies, and 
sought to prevent them. Medicis suspected their design, and 
charged some of her trusty followers to act as spies over the Admiral. 
They found him, on the 26th of September, in his working dress, 
gathering in his vintage ; and on the 28th, fifty places were in his 
power. The King, nearly taken by surprise at Monceaux, by Conde, 
gained Meaux in all haste, then Paris, under the protection of six 
second civil war thousand Swiss. The cavalry of Conde hovered con- 
1567, stantly round the escort, and the second civil war was 


The battle of Saint Denis followed closely these first hostilities. 
_ „. , a . . The advantage rested with the Catholics, but it cost 

Battle of Saint & 

Denis, 1567. them dear; the old Constable there lost his life. He 

* Etienne Parquier said the ordinances of L'Hospital surpassed everything of the 
kind that he had previously seen, and the Chancellor Aguesseau, made this eulogy, that 
they had been the cause of all the ameliorations obtained in French legislation. 

1559-1574] EEFOEM OF THE CALENDAR. 397 

had been famous under four reigns ; no illustrious warrior of that 
period had shown more devotion to his kings ; but his intolerant and 
fierce zeal for religion, rendered him guilty of great acts of violence. 
The battle of Saint Denis had no decisive result. 

The Duke of Anjou, brother of the King, was proclaimed 
Lieutenant- General of the kingdom, although he was only sixteen 
years old, and Prince Casimir, of the Palatine House, at the head of a 
numerous body of Reitres, joined the Protestants. The latter, 
animated by the example of their chiefs, despoiled themselves of 
their jewels and money in order to pay these useful allies. Catherine, 
seeing them in force, again made advances for peace, offering 
permission for the exercise of the reformed religion by replacing the 
Convention of Amhoise in vigour, and to pay the Germans, if the 
places taken were restored. These conditions were accepted, 
contrary to the advice of the principal chiefs, and the two parties 
signed a second peace at Longjumeau. The people, who foresaw the 
motives and results, gave to it the name of the badly 

77-7 7 ' -j -i -i i i'ti' -jiT/m i, The badly estab- 

estab Us tied peace ; it suspended hostilities with, dimcuity, lished peace, 
but assassinations multiplied. 

L' Hospital once more uttered words of wisdom, and endeavoured 
to struggle against passionate feelings ; but he opposed them with a 
powerless rampart. Crime was reigning ; it was necessary to get rid 
of L' Hospital,* and soon the seals were demanded from him.f He 
retired into his lands, where he sought, in literature and in the 
practice of domestic virtues, a distraction of the calamities which 
afflicted his attention, and from the still greater evils which he 
foresaw. Prance owes to him among other useful 

° Reform of the 

reforms, that of the calendar ; by a decree of 1563, calen( *ar, 1563. 
he caused it to be decreed that the year, which, until then, had 
commenced at Easter, should begin on the 1st of January. % 

L' Hospital having retired from public affairs, nothing could restrain 
the rage of the factions. He was not ignorant of it, and displayino* 

* J. Droz, Notice sur Michel de V Hospital. 

f He nevertheless preserved to his death the dignity of Chancellor, which was 

X This reform, of which the advantages were only properly appreciated a little later, 
was not definitely carried out and adopted till 1587. 


one day his long white beard to those whom his old age troubled : — 
"When this snow shall be melted," said he, "there will be nothing 
remaining but mud." Moderate men, like himself, received the derisive 
name of poliliques, and were hated by all parties. Medicis herself 
seemed to have renounced temporising and prudence. She endea- 
voured, but vainly, to take by surprise the Protestant chiefs. Then 
there appeared edicts thundering against the Calvinists, and their 
religion was forbidden throughout the kingdom. They took up arms 
T . . in all parts ; in their fury they profaned the altars, they 

1568# devastated, burnt the churches and the convents, and 

committed many atrocities. Briquemont, one of their chiefs, excited 
them to murder, carrying himself, hung round his neck, a necklace 
composed of the ears of priests ; but Louis of Bourbon, Duke of 
Montpensier, a Catholic general, was far above all in barbarity, and 
history refuses to repeat the frightful executions, of which he gloried 
in being the inventor. 

The Catholic army, under the Duke of Anjou and of Marshal 
Tavanne, met the Protestant army, commanded by Conde, upon the 
banks of the Charente, near to Jarnac. There a sanguinary and 
Battle of Jarnac, unequal combat took place, sustained by the cavalry 
of the Prince alone, against all the forces of the Catholics, 
Conde, wounded in the evening, wore his arm in a sling ; at the moment 
of action an impetuous horse broke his leg. " Go on, noble French !" 
said the Prince to the nobles who surrounded him, "behold the combat 
which you have so much desired ; remember in what state Louis of 
Bourbon entered into it for Christ and his country." Thrown from 
his horse, Conde defended himself like a hero ; among those who 
made a rampart of their bodies might have been seen an old man, 
named La Vergne, with twenty-five young men, his sons, his grand- 
sons, and his nephews ; all fought valiantly until La Yergne had 
perished with fifteen of his relatives ; the others were made prisoners. 
Conde then gave himself up ; but soon Montesquiou, captain of the 
guards of the Duke of Anjou, rushed in and assassinated the Prince 
Death of Louis of in a cowardly manner by a pistol-shot. Thus died Louis 
of Conde, who had scarcely attained thirty- nine years. 
The Protestants were beaten, and the Court abandoned itself to all 
the intoxication of triumph, when the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne 

1559-1574] BATTLE OF MONCONTCUR. 399 

d'Albret,* a woman of great piety and of noble conrage, Jeanne d'Aibret 

presents &s chiefs 

reanimated the hopes of her party. She repaired to to the Protestant 
Cognac, in Augonmois, where the remains of the Calvan- Henry, Prince of 

i Beam, and the 

istic army were assembled, and took with her Henry her young- Prince of 

J . Conde", 1569. 

son, Prince of Beam, and Henry, son of Prince Lonis of 
Conde, both sixteen years old. Jeanne presented herself to the sol- 
diers, holding by the hand the two young men. " I offer to you," said 
she, " my son, and I entrust to you Henry, son of the Prince whom 
we regret. May Heaven grant that they both show themselves worthy 
of their ancestors." The Prince of Beam advanced immediately, and 
said : "I swear to defend the religion and to persevere in the common 
cause, until death or victory has restored to us all that liberty for 
which we fight." Conde signified by a gesture that a similar resolu- 
tion animated him, and immediately the Prince of Beam was pro- 
claimed General-in-Chief, amid the applause of the army under the 
direction of Coligni. 

The Duke of Deux-Ponts, at the head of a considerable body of 
Germans, came to join the Calvanists, whose forces were raised to 
more than twenty -five thousand men. The combat of Roche- Abeille, 
the first where Henry of Beam distinguished himself, Combat of Roche- 


w^as to their advantage. Soon the two armies found 
themselves in presence of each other, near Moncontour, in Poitou ; a 
simple defile separated them. The Calvanists were the most numerous, 
but they occupied a bad position. Coligni wished to BattleofM 
change it ; the soldiers wished to fight. The action tour ' 157 °- 
commenced ; the carnage of the Protestants was frightful, and, in 
half an hour, of twenty- five thousand men only five or six hundred 
rallied round Coligni. That warrior, severely wounded, showed him- 
self in that battle, so fatal to his party, above himself even. He had 
recently lost his brother and saved all the remnant of his army. He 
took them back into Languedoc together with the young Princes, 
where Montgomery rejoined them with his troops. The Calvanists 
reappeared once more in an imposing attitude, and Coligni conducted 
them towards Paris by forced inarches. On both sides the need for 

* A queen who had nothing womanly hut her sex ; her soul was entirely devoted to 
manly concerns, her mind was powerful in great affairs, and her heart invincible in adver- 
sity. (D'Aubigne, Hint, univ., t. II., liv. Ier, Ch. II.) 

400 . DEATH OF JEANNE D'ALBRET. [Book II. Chap. I. 

Peace of St. Ger- rest was extreme, and peace was signed at Saint Germain, 
where the Court was then being held. 

The Calvanists, besides the advantages accorded by preceding 
treaties, obtained their choice of four places of safety ; they chose 
Hochelle, Montauban, Cognac ; and Charite, which they engaged to 
restore at the end of two years. Charles IX, married almost imme- 
diately Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Maximilian II., and from 
that time he profoundly concealed his hatred of the Reformers. 
The gloomy Philip, at the same period, practised the most atro- 
cious cruelties on his subjects. The Moors who composed the most 
industrious portion of the inhabitants of Spain, had been, on 
account of their religion, reduced to the most miserable condition 
Cruelties of under Philip II. they were decimated by the sword 

and by fire. The Spanish monarch, assured against 
the attacks of the Mussulman by the victory of Lepanto, wished 
also to extirpate heresy in his states, and the Duke of Alba was the 
worthy minister of his fury in Belgium. Philip, glorying in the 
frightful triumphs of his General, did not cease to excite Charles to 
imitate him ; but Charles had no need of his advice in order to 
become his rival. 

Peace called back into France order and security ; the people 
hoped that they had seen the end of so many evils. The attentions 
and benevolent proceedings of the Court towards the Protestants, in 
Perfidious atten- place of making them more circumspect, appeared to 

tions paid by the . . „ , p T 

Court to the Pro- them to be so many guarantees or a nappy future. J eanne 
d'Albret, the young Princes, and Coligni, were invited to 
the Court, and went there. The King lavished upon them the most flat- 
tering words. " I hold you," said he graciously to the Admiral, " and 
you shall not quit us when you wish." The marriage of the Prince of 
Beam with Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles, was projected. The 
difference of religion presented an. obstacle, but the King himself 
smoothed away all difficulties. Jeanne d'Albret died in the middle of 
Death of Jeanne these negotiations. Some persons affirmed that she had 
marriage of the been poisoned; but little attention was given to such an 

Prince of Beam, 

King of Navarre, event in a time when death by poison or by the poignard 

with Margaret of . m • 

Vaiois. was almost a natural kind of death. The projected 

marriage was conducted between Margaret and young Henry, who 


immediately after the death of his mother, had taken the title of the 
King of Navarre. 

The Catholic, troops were on the march on all points of the kingdom. 
The Court effected loans with foreigners, and redoubled its attentions 
towards the Calvinists. The latter, nevertheless, remained in profound 
security. Coligny, consulted by Charles IX., advised him to stop the 
progress of the Spanish power, by sustaining insurgent Flanders 
against him. The King appeared to approve of this project, and 
troops took the road for Belgium. Then Medici and the Duke of 
Anjou — whether they were surprised at the hesitation in the mind of 
Charles, and wished him to compromise himself altogether with the 
Calvinists, or whether they desired, above all, to get rid of Coligny — 
posted an assassin, named Maurevel, who wounded him dangerously by 
a shot from an arquebuse. The Admiral was brought Attempted 

r ~ . •!! assassination of 

home bleeding. Charles was playing at tennis when he Colony by 


learnt this news. " Am I then always to see fresh 
troubles ?" cried he, throwing away his racket with fury. He accom- 
panied his mother to the house of the Admiral, and overwhelmed him 
with perfidious caresses and false evidences of regret and indigna- 

Medeci already had fixed the day for the greatest of the enormities. 
Supported by the Duke of Anjou, she convinced the King that the 
moment for striking had arrived. Charles immediately plunged into 
a gloomy fit of anger. " Let the Protestants perish, then !" said he, 
" but do not allow any one to remain to reproach me." 

Every means was taken to draw to Paris the greatest number of 
Protestants possible. Charles, with this intention, designedly inspired 
some inquietude, and made them understand that it was necessary that 
they should be in force, in order to be safe from all surprise and all 
peril. They flocked together in crowds, and soon the arrangements 
for the work of blood were finished. A council was held at the 
Tuileries between the Queen, the Duke of Anjou, the Duke of Nevers, 
Henry d'Angouleme, Grand-Prior of France, Rene de Birague, Marshal 
Tavannes, Albert de Gondi, and Baron de Retz. The distribution of 
the different parts was accomplished, and it was settled that the exe- 
cution would commence on the following day, at dawn, Saint Bar- 
tholomew's day. Tavannes gave the order, in the presence of the King, 

D D 


to tlie prevot of tlie merchants, John Charron, to cause the companies 
of bourgeois to be armed, and to unite at midnight, at the Hotel- de- 
Ville, and to throw themselves upon the Calvinists at the first sound of 
the tocsin bell. The murderers, in order to recognize each other, were 
obliged to carry a scarf on the left arm and a white cross in the hat. 
At break of day, Medici, impatient, caused the signal to be given, by 
the clock of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois. At the gloomy sound of the 
Massacre of bell, the town was filled with assassins, and first of all a 

mew, 24th band of soldiers, directed by Henry of Guise, sought out 

the house of Coligny. The gates were opened in the name 
of the King; the murderers went up and found the Admiral at prayers. 
" Are you Coligny ?" asked their chief, a man named Berne, threatening 
Murder of him with his sword. "Yes, I am he;" answered the 

latter ; "young man, you ought to respect my gray hairs ! " 
Instead of answering, Berne struck him with repeated blows, mutilated 
him, and threw his corpse into the street, where Henry of Guise waited, 
and trampled it under his feet. Already death was everywhere in 
Paris ; the Huguenots left their houses, half naked, at the sound of the 
tocsin, amid the cries of their murdered brethren, and perished by 
thousands. Tavannes, the Dukes of Angouleme and Anjou, Henry of 
Guise, and Montpensier, stirred up the executioners to the carnage. 
* Bleed, bleed !" cried Tavannes, "the doctors say that bleeding is as 
good in the month of August as in May." The bourgeois were rivals 
in ferocity with the greatest seignors. The goldsmith, Cruce, boasted 
of having killed more than four hundred Huguenots in one day. He 
who had ordered the crime, wished to partake in a part of its execu- 
tion. "The King might be seen," says Brautome, "firing from a 
window in the Louvre, on the fugitives." He afterwards went, with a 
brilliant cortege, to the gibbets of Montfaucon, where were suspended 
all that was left of the Admiral, half consumed. He appeared to enjoy 
the spectacle, and repeated, it is said, the frightful saying of Vitellius : 
"The body of a slain enemy always smells well." The massacre lasted 
three days in Paris, where five thousand persons lost their lives. On 
the third day Charles summoned the Parliament ; he dared to justify 
his conduct, and the President, Christopher de Thou, had the shame- 
less weakness to approve of it. Royal orders were hurried into all the 
provinces, commanding similar massacres. Meaux, Angers, Bourges, 

1559-1574] - FOURTH CIVIL WAR. 403 

Orleans, Lyon, Toulouse, and Rouen became the theatres of horrible 
scenes ; many governors, however, refused to obey. The Viscount 
d'Orthez, commander of Bayonne, wrote the King : — " Sire, I have 
found in the town only good citizens and brave soldiers, but no execu- 
tioner." The Count of Tendes, in Provence, made a similar answer: 
the deaths of both of them were sudden and premature. The young 
King of Navarre and Henry de Conde ran the risk of their lives during 
the massacre ; Charles made them come into his presence, and said to 
them, in a terrible voice, " The mass or death ! " Yielding to neces- 
sity, the two princes apparently recanted and remained prisoners. Such 
were the principal scenes of that frightful day, in which the Roman 
court thought they saw a triumph, but of which L'Hospital said, in 
causing his doors to be opened to the assassins, "Perish the memory 
of this execrable day ! " * 

Medici and Charles IX. had hoped for a peaceable reign as the 
result of their crimes ; they deceived themselves ; a most terrible civil 
war broke out, and a great number of Catholics embraced the 
reformed religion on account of the horror inspired „ .. . .. 

& a Fourth civil war, 

in them by Saint Bartholomew. The party of the lo72 - 
JPolitigfues raised themselves against the court, and soon there were to 
be reckoned in their ranks many of the most illustrious seignors of 
France, to whom Damville and Thore, sons of the Constable Mont- 
•morency, added their names. The thirst for vengeance, carried to 
rage, doubled the forces of the Protestants. The weakest places 
resisted the royal troops, whom the insurgents insulted from the top 
of their walls: — "Approach, assassins," cried they to them; "come 
on, murderers, you will not find us asleep like the Admiral." La 
Rochelle was the principal place of the Protestants ; Charles felt the 
necessity of taking it. The Duke of Anjou departed on this ex- 

* That day struck him with such a horror that it could only be called death. When 
he was informed of so many atrocities: "I recognise," cried he, "the councils that 
were given to the King for a long time ; it is necessary to die when one cannot prevent 
such misfortunes." The assassins of Admiral Coligny approached very slowly the dwell- 
ing of the Chancellor L'Hospital. His domestics came to tell him that an